The issue of scoring runs only became more glaring in the first two games of the Red Sox’ three-game set with the Tigers, which concluded Sunday night at Fenway Park.
The Sox scratched out just 10 hits, mustered just one run (on a Xander Bogaerts homer), and left 11 runners on base, watching rare scoring opportunities go up in smoke in two losses.
In the 10 games before the Tigers came to Fenway, the Sox hit .263 and averaged five runs a game.
Manager John Farrell knows the offense is there, but he was at a loss to explain the lack of consistent productivity.
“Overall, the one thing I will continually say is for the first 42 games we’ve done a very good job of getting on base — third in the American League — and the disconnect is the runs scored,” Farrell said. “You go from third in on-base to 10th or 11th in runs scored. And that’s where I think opposing pitchers have managed our lineup a little bit to get to spots in it to shut off an inning, taking advantage of possibly some inexperience.”
The Sox’ .240 average with runners in scoring position entering Sunday night was 17th in the majors.
The problem hasn’t been putting runners on. It’s been driving them in, which is why even if the runs aren’t coming, Farrell said the Sox’ philosophy at the plate won’t change.
“We still can’t abandon our approach at the plate and that is to see pitches, to grind out at-bats, to get into a bullpen hopefully sooner than later,” Farrell said. “We have the players that are here and we’re going to continue to put together a game plan to work to win each and every night. We’ve seen a couple of the different alignments or lineups that have included everyone that’s on this roster and we’ll continue to work toward that end.”
Looking to rebound
Jake Peavy entered the prime-time matchup looking to bounce back from his worst start of the season.
He was tagged for six runs on nine hits in 4⅓ innings May 13 in Minnesota. He’s walked a team high a team-high 27 this season, 11 more than the next closest Sox pitcher.
The numbers might be troublesome, but Farrell said part of the reason was the tight games Peavy’s found himself in. In six of his starts entering Sunday night, Peavy left the mound with the game either tied or with the Sox down 1.
“A lot has been made of the increase in walks this year, but I think that’s as much pitching in a low-run, one-run game situation and managing a lineup that he’s going against,” Farrell said. “And in some cases, I think there’s been a tendency to pitch a little bit too fine, where he’s thrown a few extra pitches that’s led to a walk here and there.
“But I think until the game in Minnesota, the walks really haven’t come back to haunt him much and we’ve been in every game, with the exception of five days ago, through those middle to late innings with him on the mound.”
Peavy’s velocity is down a tick this season, from 90.3 miles per hour a year ago to 89.5 this season. But when he looks at the action from the 32-year-old righthander’s pitches, Farrell said it’s mostly been the occasional missed location.
“You get deep into a career, as Jake has done, there’s going to be those adjustments that are required along the way,” Farrell said. “You go through a long list of pitchers that go through that. I can’t say that his stuff has diminished to the point where he can’t challenge people because he’s still pitching in the low 90s with good life. More consistent location might be more of a need at this point.
“But still, he’s had some very, very good outings for us since coming over here from Chicago.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. returned to the lineup in the nine hole after getting Saturday night off. He had been stuck in a rut this month, hitting .128 with 17 strikeouts. After Bradley said he felt “lost” at the plate, Farrell figured it would be good to give Bradley a day to gather his thoughts. “I think the need comes up for most every player, regardless of age, where a breather can be helpful,” Farrell said . . . The Sox entered not having lost more than three straight games since the end of the 2012 season . . . The Tigers hadn’t won a series at Fenway since 2006, and they hadn’t swept a series at Fenway since 1983.