They just needed to make a play. That seemed to be the common lament for first baseman Mike Napoli and catcher A.J. Pierzynski, both of whom were charged with errors Tuesday in the Red Sox’ 9-3 loss to the Yankees.
While Pierzynski’s throwing error in the first inning and Napoli’s fielding error in the fifth led to runs, they were not the sole reasons the Red Sox suffered their 12th loss in 21 games this season. But they did contribute to a growing, if not disturbing, trend with Boston’s leaky defense as the Sox committed their 13th and 14th errors of the season.
“We’ve given some extra outs and, when you do that at this level, you’re asking for trouble,’’ said manager John Farrell. “It’s something we continue to address and work at internally. There’s not going to be wholesale changes made. We just have to go out and execute with greater efficiency.’’
Pierzynski owned up to his throwing error in the first inning. The Red Sox were already down, 1-0, as Jacoby Ellsbury had led off with a triple and Derek Jeter singled up the middle. With Carlos Beltran up, Jeter went for second on a Jon Lester pitch that ended up on the third base side of the plate. Pierzynski’s errant throw bounced into center, allowing Jeter to take third.
Pierzynski dispelled any notion that the wet conditions affected his throw.
“I just tried to hurry it and made a bad throw, the rain had nothing to do with it,’’ he said. “It was a good read by Jeter. I was trying to make a play and I just short-hopped Pedey and it went into center field. It had nothing to do with the rain. Those things happen.”
David Ortiz and Napoli bit back-to-back homers in the fourth off Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka to help the Sox pull within 4-2. Lester walked Mark Teixeira and allowed a Brian McCann single to left to start the fifth, but he rallied for a pair of strikeouts.
That’s when Napoli committed his costly miscue.
Brian Roberts’s line drive bounced off the glove of the leaping Napoli and caromed into shallow right and allowed Teixeira to score from second. Ellsbury then chased Lester by lacing a two-run double to left, making it 7-2.
“McCann was on first base, and I was going to my left,’’ Napoli said. “It was just a weird play and it disappeared a little bit on me. But it’s a play I need to make. I thought I was on it and it went off my glove.”
Napoli atoned for his mistake in the ninth when he robbed Roberts on a similar play, this time timing his jump correctly to get Junichi Tazawa out of the inning.
“I mean, I saw it the whole way,’’ Napoli said, describing the difference between the play he made and the one he didn’t make. “Like I said, it’s a play I need to make in that situation. It could’ve got us back in the dugout, hitting again after we scored a couple of runs, and they don’t have a big inning.’’
Lester was gone after 4⅔ innings, relieved by Chris Capuano. Lester surrendered eight runs (three earned) and 11 hits on 118 pitches, all season highs.
Asked about what concerns he had about the team’s defensive deficiencies becoming a trend, Napoli replied, “That’s why defense is important. If you get off the field, Lester doesn’t have to throw as many pitches and maybe you get another inning out of him.’’