Sox scuffle along
Scutaro’s error is costly in loss
BALTIMORE — Marco Scutaro nearly threw his glove to the ground, his disgust and frustration clearly evident. The Red Sox shortstop had just made a bad throw past second base and into right field, as the Orioles scored two runs on a soft grounder. It’s unclear if the throw was a product of Scutaro’s balky right shoulder, but it was his second miscue of the game.
“I don’t have nothing to say,’’ Scutaro said after the 5-2 loss to the Orioles. “I just made a bad throw. Don’t have any excuses.’’
Asked about his arm, Scutaro added, “It’s what I have. No excuses.’’
The problem is Scutaro’s inflamed rotator cuff, an injury that has caused pain and prevented him from making some routine throws to first base. But he has played through it, a notable achievement on a team decimated by injuries.
In the first inning, Scutaro didn’t make the throw on a grounder from Ty Wigginton, allowing him to reach via an infield hit. The Orioles scored their first run when the next batter, Luke Scott, singled to right to drive in Nick Markakis (double).
But it was the errant throw in the third inning that resulted in the most damage. Brian Roberts stood on third base, courtesy of a single, a Josh Beckett wild pitch, and a groundout by Markakis. Scott was on first with a walk. Adam Jones followed with a soft grounder to shortstop. Scutaro made the stop, but the relay to Lowrie at second sailed to the outfield as Roberts and Scott crossed the plate.
Those three runs were all the Orioles needed, as they beat the Sox for the seventh time in their 13 meetings. The Sox failed to take advantage of the Rays’ loss and couldn’t keep pace with the victorious Yankees. With 30 games left, Boston is eight games behind in the AL East and seven out in the wild card.
“I don’t think anyone here is not aware of what’s going on in the games of the other teams in our division,’’ Mike Lowell said. “When one of those two lose and we can’t capitalize, you feel like you kind of wasted a chance. What are you going to do? We’re not playing with a lack of effort. Guys want to win. Guys want to play well. It just seems like a play here or there doesn’t go our way.’’
Like the throw by Scutaro, which negated a good performance by Beckett, in who allowed just three runs (two earned).
“It looked like he double clutched a little bit,’’ Lowrie said of Scutaro. “It happens. Unfortunately it was in a big spot. He’s a great shortstop.
“I think [his shoulder is] affecting him quite a bit. He goes out there and plays every night, which is a testament to him because he’s a tough guy. I think his shoulder is not where he wants it to be.’’
That sentiment was echoed by Lowell.
“I think he just has to put a lot more of his body into it. I think he needs to be commended, as opposed to criticized,’’ Lowell said. “He’s been playing with a lot of pain for a while now. He’s gutting it out. I know a lot of guys have gone down. He keeps trekking along. I’m sure he doesn’t feel like he’s 100 percent, but he’s giving everything he’s got.’’
Beckett made more progress as he works his way back from a terrible three-game stretch in August. But he didn’t distinguish himself after the game, leaving the clubhouse before speaking with reporters. Starting pitchers are expected to talk after games, and almost invariably do so, with years separating Beckett’s decision not to talk and the last time a Sox starter did that.
“We’ve come for a long time to lean on him,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “I think tonight was more of what he can do.’’
Beckett gave up seven hits in seven innings, walking just one and striking out five. But the offense couldn’t do enough against Brian Matusz, who improved to 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts against Boston.
“Facing a guy like Matusz, who can make big pitches in big spots, you’ve got to take advantage when you have opportunities,’’ said Lowrie, who provided the Sox with their only offense, a two-run homer in the fifth. “He beat us tonight.’’
They did have a chance, though not against Matusz. After Matusz walked J.D. Drew to open the seventh, he was replaced by Jim Johnson, who has a 6.50 ERA (13 runs allowed in 18 innings) in his career against Boston. Lowrie singled, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Bill Hall. Scutaro grounded out, leaving it up to pinch hitter Daniel Nava with two outs and the Sox down by one run. He struck out looking, leaving the Sox with yet another loss after general manager Theo Epstein had said before the game that the team needs to get “extremely hot’’ to have any chance of making the postseason.
“We’ve got to win games,’’ Lowrie said. “We don’t have any other choice.’’