Lack of offense for Sox
Well-pitched game is absent support
As his teammates claimed their bats and gloves and quietly trudged to the clubhouse, Dustin Pedroia sat alone on the dugout bench with an expression that was equal parts rage and frustration.
The Red Sox had been beaten, 2-0, by the Seattle Mariners last night, leaving 11 runners on base to lose for the fourth time in five games.
As April turns to May, the 11-15 Sox are in last place in the American League East, held back by an offense that can’t produce when opportunities arise.
The Red Sox were hitless in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position last night and are hitting .212 in such situations on the season. The Sox already have been shut out three times and have been held to two or fewer runs in seven games.
“We can’t score, man,’’ said Pedroia, whose usual postgame bravado was reduced to a whisper. “We’re fighting to get it going. It’s frustrating. I’m not even sure what to say.’’
Now the Sox will send Tim Wakefield to the mound against Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez this afternoon to try to avert what would be an embarrassing sweep.
Wakefield will make his first start of the season in place of Clay Buchholz, who is recovering from a stomach bug.
“We’re being tested,’’ Pedroia said. “We have to find a way.’’
The Sox left the bases loaded in the first inning and runners on second in the third and fourth innings. Down only 1-0, they were so desperate to score in the fifth that Pedroia was ordered to bunt by Terry Francona with runners on first and second and no outs.
The former MVP and three-time All-Star fouled off two attempts before swinging away. He missed a double down the line in right field by inches, then narrowly missed another to left before drawing a walk.
Two pitches later, Adrian Gonzalez lined into a double play as Jacoby Ellsbury was caught off second base. Kevin Youkilis then fouled out to the catcher. That left the cleanup hitter 5 for 28 (.179) with runners in scoring position this season.
Youkilis was asked if he could identify any reason the Sox have been unable to perform in the clutch.
“Yeah, we just haven’t gotten hits when guys are in scoring position,’’ he said. “So, that’s the bottom line. You have to hit the ball where they’re not when guys are in scoring position. When they get hits, the guys score.
“This game’s pretty easy when it’s on the outside. We get judged a lot around here. What are you going to do? We’re not going to give up.’’
Gonzalez elected a less-acerbic response.
“We’ve just got to play better and get the job done, plain and simple,’’ he said.
Gonzalez criticized himself for not doing more in the fifth.
“I should have hit the ball off the left-field fence,’’ he said. “Up and away fastball, I was out in front of it. That’s a ball I drive to left field. It’s not bad luck that I hit it right at him. I should have backed it up a little more and driven it to left the way I know how to do. It’s those little things we’ve got to do better.’’
Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Youkilis were 2 for 10, 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
“If you have a good approach all the time, they even out. If you don’t necessarily have the right approach, maybe they don’t,’’ Francona said. “It’s very important and we’ve got to do better.’’
The Sox left two more runners on in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh as Doug Fister (2-3) and two relievers ducked punches. By then, the crowd of 37,901 had taken to doing the wave to entertain itself. Apparently, the $161 million Sox weren’t compelling enough.
The missed opportunities left John Lackey with an undeserved loss. He put 11 runners on base over six innings but allowed just two runs.
Lackey walked Ichiro Suzuki with one out in the third inning. Chone Figgins followed with a broken-bat single to right field and Milton Bradley with an RBI double down the line in left.
With runners at second and third, Miguel Olivo grounded to third base. Youkilis delayed his throw trying to force Figgins back to the base. Olivo appeared to beat the throw to first, but umpire Todd Tichenor called him out.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge came out of the dugout to argue the call. As Wedge returned, Bradley was ejected while at second base and angrily stomped off the field after briefly confronting umpire Gerry Davis.
Lackey ended the inning by getting Justin Smoak to ground to first base. Seattle’s second run came on Jack Wilson’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
“I managed the game as best I could,’’ said Lackey, who fell to 2-3. “Not much is going right for us.’’