The Red Sox don’t run around the bases much these days, but they can sure get dressed in a hurry. The clubhouse was almost empty by the time reporters were allowed in after a 3-1 loss against the Rangers Thursday night.
The few players still in the room hurried out, keeping their eyes fixed on the door that led to the parking lot. Hanley Ramirez offered a few sentences before departing and David Ortiz just a few more.
“Nope, no answers,” said Ortiz, who left in such a rush he didn’t throw a jacket over the sleeveless T-shirt he was wearing. “Just ain’t hitting.”
As is tradition in baseball, the starting pitcher spoke. But Clay Buchholz, who allowed two earned runs over 7⅓ innings, had nothing to apologize for. The loss wasn’t his fault.
It was left to one of the team’s youngest players, 22-year-old Xander Bogaerts, to offer some explanation about how a team built to have an overwhelming offense is so inept at the plate.
Bogaerts said all the right things, praising his teammates and coaches. The Sox are working hard, he said. Nobody is pressing.
“I don’t think anyone saw the offense like the way it is right now,” he said. “Frustrated? Obviously.”
As the interview finished up, Bogaerts looked up from tying his sneakers.
“I wish I knew what to tell you,” he said. “This is crazy.”
For the seventh time in the last nine games, the 19-22 Sox were held to two or fewer runs. Wandy Rodriguez became the latest lefthanded starter to befuddle the Red Sox, predominantly a righthanded-hitting team. He allowed one run on four hits over 6⅔ innings.
The Sox scored six runs and left 29 runners on base in the three-game series, losing twice against a Rangers team that has been one of the worst in the American League.
The ninth inning was particularly painful. Ortiz led off with a double against Shawn Tolleson. Ramirez, who has yet to drive in a run this month, popped to center field. Mike Napoli then struck out for the third time before Brock Holt struck out looking.
“I just missed. I just missed it. I got under it a little bit,” Ramirez said.
Manager John Farrell offered a similar refrain.
“We’re getting some pitches and just missing them,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding.”
The question is how long the Sox keep grinding with a lineup that isn’t producing and a roster overloaded with underachievers.
“Well, we’ve got to get the players that we’re counting on, we’ve got to them rolling,” Farrell said. “Whether or not there’s roster changes, nothing is here to be announced in this moment. We’ll take a look at every opportunity to see if there’s an adjustment to be made.
“But it’s not like we’re looking at one spot in the lineup that’s a glaring hole.”
The next move could be to call up Rusney Castillo, the $72.5 million Cuban star who didn’t make the team out of spring training. Beyond that, most anything is possible.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves was fired after 28 games. Now 41 games in the Sox are hitting .233 and averaging 3.8 runs. Other jobs could be on the line.
The first inning was an ugly one for Buchholz and the Sox.
Shin-Soo Choo led off with a soft single to right field. Delino DeShields then surprised the Sox with a bunt to the left side of the plate and reached first without a play being made.
When Prince Fielder sent a fly ball to right field, the runners advanced.
After Adrian Beltre walked, Mitch Moreland grounded to second. The ball was too slowly hit to turn two and Dustin Pedroia went to second base.
The Sox got an out but when Bogaerts came off the bag, he dropped the ball and DeShields scored after Choo.
“Pedey threw it a bit wide. I went and got it,” Bogaerts said. “I should have made a good transfer at least.”
Buchholz allowed only three other hits. One was a home run by Moreland in the fourth inning.
Buchholz has given up six earned runs over 21⅔ innings in his last three starts. That dropped his ERA from 6.03 to 4.58.
Rodriguez, who has 11 years in the majors, was facing the Red Sox for the first time. Like most lefties this season, he enjoyed the experience.
Rodriguez retired eight of the first nine batters he faced. The Sox, down 2-0, showed life in the fourth inning. Mookie Betts led off with a single and went to third when Pedroia doubled to left.
With the Rangers in a shift, Ortiz grounded out to shallow right field and Betts scored. That gave Ortiz 1,550 RBIs, tying Fred McGriff for 43d all time.
Ramirez tapped a ball to the mound. Rodriguez scooped the ball to catcher Carlos Corporan and Pedroia was tagged out.
Bogaerts walked with one out in the fifth inning and tried to steal second base. Nava hit a grounder to the right side that would have gone through but it struck Bogaerts on the right foot. By rule, he was out.
“The baseball field is so big? What are the chances of the ball even hitting me under my cleat?” Bogaerts said. “Are you kidding me?”
Rodriguez got two outs in the seventh inning before Holt drew a walk. Facing righthander Keone Kela, Bogaerts singled to right. But an overmatched Nava struck out on three pitches.
In their last eight games against lefty starters, the Sox have scored two or fewer runs seven times.