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Optimism abounds

Sox won’t dwell on the negative

Travis Hafner of the Indians, who had doubled, races around to score in the fourth inning on a single by Orlando Cabrera. Travis Hafner of the Indians, who had doubled, races around to score in the fourth inning on a single by Orlando Cabrera. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / April 6, 2011

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CLEVELAND — Any day now.

That seemed to be the mood in the Red Sox clubhouse after last night’s 3-1 loss to the Indians, dropping Boston to 0-4 to start the season.

It would be easy to accentuate the negative because the Red Sox have provided very few positives. However, it seems the players have identified what is wrong and now it’s a matter of correcting it. And they think it will be soon.

“Everybody’s trying hard, man, you know?’’ said Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “All it takes is one click, man. One click. That’s what changes things around.’’

Hitters think they’re being way too eager at the plate.

Pitchers have been leaving balls over the plate.

Josh Beckett didn’t pitch that poorly last night — three runs over five innings — but he had to leave the game after throwing 106 pitches. He was throwing 92-93 miles per hour, which isn’t the Beckett of old, but he knows if he keeps the ball down, he still can dominate. Last night he didn’t dominate. In fact, he gave up a key line drive RBI hit to Orlando Cabrera as part of a two-run fourth inning. Beckett said if he had gotten the pitch down three inches, it would have been a ground ball.

Little stuff like that likely will turn their way soon.

Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin didn’t make it easy on the Sox, allowing just three hits over seven solid innings.

“They made some pitches and you don’t want to take credit away from the kid, but we can do better,’’ said Ortiz, who made the last out with a line drive to left. “I was surprised they were playing me down the line. I did what I was supposed to, put a good swing on the ball.

“When you’re facing this kind of situation, you want to get the first [win] out of the way. Keep on moving. That’s how things get started. Some of us are trying too hard but we’re trying to make things happen. That’s baseball. You have to keep on playing. We don’t have 16 games like the NFL or 82 like the NBA. We have 162, so you can figure things out because it’s a tough game to play.

“Everybody had a great attitude, though.’’

Adrian Gonzalez went 0 for 4 and looked out of sorts.

The Indians even employed a shift on him. Strange considering Gonzalez is normally an opposite-field hitter. Gonzalez said teams did it to him in the National League as well, but he usually beat it. Last night he didn’t and hit into a double play because, “I was chasing pitches out of the zone.’’

Gonzalez added, “We did a poor job being selective and getting good pitches to hit. We have to get better at that.’’

How?

“Concentrating more, I don’t know,’’ Gonzalez said. “Just got to make sure you don’t chase pitches out of the zone. Today I can only speak for myself, but I did a really poor job. It’s just something individually we have to focus on — being the best player we can be. We can put that together and we’ll be fine. The best thing is that it’s happening now and not in middle of a pennant race. Two weeks from now, it’ll be behind everybody. At the moment we have to concern ourselves with it.’’

The 0-4 start has thrown the players for a loop.

Beckett has seen a lot of good times and has seen this team really take off like it did in 2007. He knows he has to be a big part of it. He wasn’t awful, but he failed to be the stopper. In past years, he could do that. If the Sox offense had produced, Beckett might have earned the win. But it’s hard when the top two hitters in the lineup — Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford — go a combined 0 for 8.

“There’s too much history here,’’ Beckett said. “Everybody knows how to win. We’re going to figure it out. Nobody is going to come out of the blue and help us out. We know what we’ve got to do. We have to go out and execute.’’

Beckett is right. Manger Terry Francona echoed the same sentiment after the game. Nobody will help the Red Sox out. The Sox aren’t the most popular team in the league and there are teams relishing this start.

The Sox have a target on their back and until they win a game, the pressure will mount.

“I think we’re all pretty frustrated,’’ said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who reached base twice with an RBI single and a walk, but allowed two stolen bases and made a throwing error. “We know we’re better than this. We have to step up our game. Part of being a Red Sox is we know everyone else is going to step up their game against us.’’

The players know what they’ve been doing wrong and this will turn around soon enough. It’s also a lesson that they should not be so dismissive of winning in spring training. Winning breeds winning and after a spring of getting their butts kicked, that has spilled over.

Now they must find a way to get serious.

They are a team built to be more selective at the plate, to pitch into the seventh inning, and rely on a very good bullpen, which, by the way, was the highlight of the night with Matt Albers, Bobby Jenks, and Daniel Bard striking out eight and allowing no hits in relief of Beckett.

There are things starting to come together.

So it’s not far off.

Any day now. Any day now.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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