BALTIMORE — The Red Sox clubhouse was a ghost town by the time John Farrell had completed his brief postgame press conference.
Hardly a player to be found.
It’s getting to the point where there’s really not much left to say, or to ask, or to respond to. The Red Sox lost to Bud Norris and the Orioles, 4-0, in 2 hours and 21 minutes on Monday night. At least the pain didn’t last long.
Players filed out en masse. Left were Shane Victorino in his corner locker; David Ortiz, who chatted with a reporter before his shower; David Ross, who commented on the team, the mood, the future; and Jake Peavy, who took the loss and is now 1-4 on the season.
Under normal circumstances, allowing four runs over seven innings isn’t so bad. A good hitting lineup gets its starting pitcher a win under those circumstances, but not this team.
Norris nibbled on the corners, kept the Red Sox offense off balance. The Red Sox hit a few balls hard, but at people, but that’s hard to hear at this point. There are no consolation prizes for almosts, not when the team is struggling to keep its head above water.
As the players left, you could tell — what more could they say? Even Farrell’s postgame words were unusually brief.
It’s now a matter of putting together a winning streak, or continue to flounder. It’s obvious, as Ross pointed out, that the Red Sox just need to find a way to win, and until that happens talk is cheap. Nobody wants to talk about losing night after night. If Ortiz hadn’t won the game with his three-run home run in the ninth inning on Sunday night, the Red Sox would be looking at a long losing streak again.
Peavy allowed homers to Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Ryan Flaherty. And that was pretty much it. A few mistakes here and there, but absolutely no help from the offense.
“We hit the ball hard tonight,” said Peavy, trying to put a positive spin on what has become the unspinnable. “Bud Norris pitched his rear end off tonight, take nothing away from him. But we could have changed innings and outlooks if a few of the balls had dropped. [Dustin Pedroia] hitting the ball hard at J.J. Hardy. Diving play by Flaherty on David. [Napoli] hits the ball deep to center but it stays in the ballpark. If those hits had fallen and you make him work a little bit, things might have been different.
“Hopefully things will turn. Have to keep playing and grinding for it to turn,” he added.
In his first seven starts, Peavy had a 3.09 ERA. In his last six, it’s 6.69. His only win came April 25 in Toronto. Since that win, Peavy has a 5.94 ERA. The home run has killed him. He allowed a homer in each of his first nine starts, and has given up 13 in 13 starts overall.
Peavy, a former National League Cy Young winner, has never been this frustrated. But not for himself or his paltry record.
“I could care less what my personal record is,” he said. “I was pitching to win. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much of a chance. That’s a good lineup with a little bit of everything. What’s grinding on me is the way we’re going as a team. That’s the hardest part.”
You’ve got to believe that knowing you’re not going to get run support alters the way you pitch. You know you can’t make a mistake or fall behind because with this lineup, it’s virtually impossible to recover.
“You really can’t approach it that way,” Peavy said. “You know runs are at a premium but you can’t go out there thinking about that. Maybe be a touch careful, but if it takes your aggressiveness away, that’s going to make it worse. We’ll pull out of it and hopefully start scoring some runs.”
Ross talked about Peavy making a few bad pitches, but to a slumping team it’s extremely difficult to overcome mistakes.
If you’re a Red Sox pitcher these days you just can’t win.
Farrell wants his pitchers to set the tone every night, but it’s reached the point where the offense does not support the pitching. Farrell benched Jackie Bradley Jr., who has had a horrible offensive season. But the replacement was Grady Sizemore, 0 for 3 and now hitting .218.
You can tell the pitchers are frustrated by the lack of hitting. When that happens, it’s a dynamic that’s hard to reconcile because all phases of the game must come together.
Norris is one of the most hittable Orioles starting pitchers and the Red Sox mustered three hits.
So now the pressure is coming to a head. Management must provide Farrell a hitter. No doubt about it. If you have to give up a high- to mid-level prospect to obtain a consistent offensive player, that’s what has to be done to shake the doldrums out of a stagnant lineup.
One reason Sox management hasn’t done anything is because it knows the team is too close in the standings to be ruled out in early June. When the Red Sox felt they needed help on the left side of the infield they acted quickly to sign Stephen Drew, but that was easy because all it entailed was a $10.2 million salary. There was no deletion of the talent pool.
This next move will require dipping into their talent. It will require some pain in giving up someone they’d rather not give up for an outfield bat that could spark the team.
Brock Holt certainly added a spark but he can’t do it alone. There are already rumblings among players that the roster needs to be enhanced and soon.
The Phillies, Royals, Padres, and Twins have been scouting the Red Sox the most over the last month. But the trading season is still a little bit down the road. The Red Sox need to turn things around for the sake of their own survival, and to bring the music back into the their clubhouse.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.