|With Michael Young on third base, a tough sixth inning (the Rangers scored seven times) certainly wasn’t getting any easier for Sox starter John Lackey. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)|
Sox are messed with by Texas
Rangers romp, take series win
Hmm. Want to rethink that one?
The Red Sox finished the regular season 4-6 against the Rangers by virtue of an 11-4 loss yesterday, dropping to 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees, the first time the Sox have been that far out since July 5.
The alarming aspect of this is the Red Sox, who begin a four-game series in Toronto this afternoon, have been outscored, 51-15, in those six losses. They outscored the Rangers, 42-14, in their four wins.
It seems to show that both teams are capable of offensive outbursts and pitching collapses. The Sox bowed, 21-4, in the two losses in this three-game series, but defeated the Rangers, 12-7, Saturday.
When the Sox beat the Rangers three out of four in Texas Aug. 22-25, they won 11-5, 13-2, and 6-0. The Rangers started Boston’s season with three straight losses.
Conclusion: A team had better be able to pitch.
Rangers lefties - CJ Wilson, Derek Holland (four shutouts overall), and Matt Harrison - have pitched excellent games against the Sox. Wilson has made two starts with a 1.46 ERA. Holland pitched seven scoreless, two-hit innings against them Friday, and Harrison pitched well yesterday, allowing two runs over seven innings.
Sox manager Terry Francona explained it as “when you get to the bullpen before you want to, that’s what happens. No team has been able to get to a [Daniel] Bard or [Jonathan] Papelbon. Both teams have been able to spread those games out.’’
In all 10 games with Texas there were no saves.
“Those guys swing the bats pretty good. When you play them they can hurt you in so many different ways,’’ said the Sox’ David Ortiz.
That’s our segue to John Lackey, who lasted five-plus innings (four batters in the sixth) and allowed six earned runs on eight hits and saw his ERA rise to 6.11.
Felix Doubront was also crushed when he relieved Lackey, allowing three of the runs charged to Lackey.
But before there’s any great sympathy for Lackey, who granted, had no run support, the Rangers had eight hits off him and probably hit a half-dozen outs pretty hard. One of them was a liner hit right at Lackey in the third inning by Elvis Andrus that Lackey converted into a big double play when Ian Kinsler, who hit one of three Rangers triples, strayed too far off the bag and was doubled up.
The Sox scored twice each in the seventh and eighth innings. With one out in the seventh, Carl Crawford singled and went to third on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s ground-rule double to left. Both scored on Marco Scutaro’s hard single to right.
In the eighth, Ortiz beat the shift with an RBI single, and Darnell McDonald knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. This was after Adrian Gonzalez walked and Kevin Youkilis doubled to set the table.
The Sox did have a few scoring opportunities, in the second in particular when Youkilis singled to left and Ortiz reached on an infield hit to third. But Conor Jackson, now hitless in his last 25 at-bats, knocked into a double play to squash the rally and later banged into the right field wall on Kinsler’s triple, suffering a bruised right knee. He came out of the game in the top of the fourth.
They also had two on in the fourth, but Harrison was tough when he needed to be.
No question about it, the Rangers, who banged out 15 hits, can bash. Witness Mike Napoli’s 23d homer, one of the longest you’ll see at Fenway, off the back wall in the center-field bleachers on a 2-0 count off Michael Bowden in the ninth. Not to mention Kinsler’s blast over the Monster that landed in the parking lot across the street, also off Bowden, on a 1-1 pitch in the ninth.
“We had a tough time controlling both sides of the plate,’’ said Saltalamacchia. “We made some mistakes, they capitalized on them. We still went out there and battled. It wasn’t our day.
“It was a tough day, nothing else you can really say about it. When you face good hitters you have to pitch to your strengths. We had a game plan. We fell behind a lot of hitters. When we faced them at their place, [Lackey] pitched well against them.’’
The Rangers usually take a different approach than the grind-it-out Red Sox. They are up there hacking. But yesterday, Francona thought they made Lackey (12-14 with a 6.16 ERA career against the Rangers) work.
“They made him work really hard from the get-go like they usually do. When he missed he just missed,’’ Francona said. “Kind of bend and didn’t break. We get to the sixth and 16 pitches and nobody out and a run in and we go to Doubront to stop it right there and it unraveled.’’
The Rangers scored seven runs in the sixth as Lackey’s good fortune ran out. Lackey allowed three straight singles, David Murphy’s scoring the first run. After a wild pitch and a walk to Napoli, Lackey exited for Doubront.
The Sox are trying to find out whether Doubront can help them as a lefty specialist down the stretch, but the answer in the sixth yesterday was a resounding no. Mitch Moreland broke an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI single, pinch hitter Esteban German walked with the bases loaded, Kinsler hit a sacrifice fly, Elvis Andrus walked, and Josh Hamilton topped it off with a bases-loaded triple, ending the Doubront experiment as he walked off to a round of boos.
While Doubront entered a tough situation Francona said, “Yeah, but that’s probably what he has to do. He just didn’t throw enough strikes. One thing he can do is fastball command from both sides and he just hung a breaking ball [to Hamilton on the triple].’’
So the Sox, who are heading down the stretch, have had a couple of down series against two teams they may meet in the playoffs. They lost two out of three to the Yankees, even though they are 11-4 against them.
The Sox now go to Toronto for four and then to Tampa Bay for three.
“We just have to regroup a little and get our rhythm back,’’ said Ortiz, who went 2 for 3. “We just weren’t ourselves in some of these games. They’re a tough team, a good team, and we know they can beat us and we can beat them. We scored a lot of runs against them, too.
“It’s going to be interesting if we meet again. I think it’s going to be a tough series no matter when you play them. But if we do what we’re supposed to this team has a lot of confidence.’’