Dustin Pedroia stopped in the middle of the clubhouse and looked a reporter straight in the eye.
“You need me?” he said after the Los Angeles Angels beat the Red Sox, 12-5, on Friday night.
It was the fourth loss in the last five games for the Red Sox. At 19-23, they’re one of the worst teams in the American League and show few signs of that changing. The small group of fans remaining at Fenway Park at the end of the game were jeering the players.
But Pedroia dismissed the idea that the Red Sox lack commitment, mocking a question about whether the team plays with enough emotion.
“Yeah, we have guys breaking bats after they get out and everything. We’ll put in more bat orders,” he said. “That stuff’s eyewash, man. Everybody’s pissed. We’re obviously not playing well.”
In the baseball dictionary, eyewash is making sure everybody knows how much you care by making a show of if. The Red Sox have tried some of that, holding team meetings and making vague promises of improvement. None of it has lasted.
“We’ve all been around enough to know that doesn’t work,” Pedroia said. “You’ve got to show up day in and day out and have the right process. If everybody plays together, then we win. Right now all aspects aren’t together.”
The Sox tried some changes on Friday, calling up outfielder Rusney Castillo from Triple A Pawtucket and shifting the lineup a bit. Castillo had an embarrassing error that contributed to the Angels scoring nine runs in the fifth inning.
It could get worse. The Sox haven’t hit lefthanders all season and they’ll face two good ones in C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago in the final two games of the series. Then comes a seven-game road trip.
Ownership didn’t approve of the highest payroll in franchise history to see a third last-place finish in four seasons. Further losses could lead to changes beyond moving a player or two off the roster.
The Sox have been outscored by 42 runs, the worst margin in the league.
“There’s definite frustration,” said manager John Farrell, who received a contract extension in spring training and now finds himself a target of criticism. “That’s shared by all in our clubhouse and those who work day in and day out with us. We expect more from ourselves. That is a given.”
The Sox had a 3-2 lead on the Angels after four innings. Rick Porcello, to that point, was pitching fairly well. But he recorded only one more out.
Porcello walked Johnny Giavotella and Erick Aybar on 11 pitches to start the fifth inning. Mike Trout followed with a ground ball into the hole at third that ticked off Brock Holt’s glove and went into left field.
Giavotella scored and Aybar as well when Xander Bogaerts’s throw got through Holt and bounced away. Bogaerts was charged with an error.
With one out, Trout stole third with an astonishing slide that saw him hit the bag with one hand then hold onto it with his foot.
Kole Calhoun followed with an RBI single and David Freese with an RBI double.
That was it for Porcello, who in his previous four starts had allowed six earned runs over 25⅔ innings.
Rookie Matt Barnes learned how unforgiving the majors can be. He walked Matt Joyce before Chris Iannetta homered and the crowd started to boo. When Marc Krauss popped to right field, Castillo dropped the ball after it hit his glove.
The boos grew louder. When Giavotella hit a fly ball to right that Castillo caught, there were mock cheers. Then came more boos when Aybar homered to right field. That ended the outing for Barnes.
The nine runs in the inning were the most for the Angels since April 20, 2013, against Detroit. Porcello started that game and gave up nine runs in the first inning.
“I take full responsibility for the loss today. It was completely on me. We’ve got to be better,” Porcello said.
Trailing, 11-3, and with much of the crowd off to happier pursuits, the Sox loaded the bases against Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards in the seventh inning.
Holt walked, Castillo singled, and Blake Swihart singled. Mookie Betts grounded to third and Freese booted it, allowing a run to score. Pedroia then drilled a ball off Richards’s leg and another run came in.
The Angels called in lefthander Jose Alvarez. He struck out David Ortiz and got Daniel Nava to ground into a double play.
The Sox had 11 hits and five runs, one of their best offensive games in a while. Mike Napoli homered and Pedroia was 3 for 5. But it wasn’t close to enough.
“We’re working as hard as we can to try and get better. That’s it. We’re playing hard. We’re just not playing very good,” Pedroia said. “I wish I had a magic word. It’s baseball. You can’t flip a switch. You have to put the work in and play better.”
Pedroia isn’t interested in another meeting.
“Less talk; more play. You got it? All right,” he said.
Only then did he leave.