Sox not disheartened after dropping road ﬁnale
CHICAGO - There are times after a loss when a baseball clubhouse is funeral-parlor quiet, the players seemingly in a contest to dress quickly and escape without drawing any attention to themselves and what just happened.
The Red Sox had a few of those moments early in the season, games so painful that they were spoken about in whispers.
But Sunday’s 4-1 loss against the Chicago White Sox did not create that kind of atmosphere. Nobody was laughing, but it was easy to rationalize one day gone wrong when it came at the end of a wildly successful road trip.
The Red Sox won six of their seven games against Minnesota and Chicago and will return to Fenway Park Monday night a much different team than the one that left eight days earlier.
The starting pitching, a question mark when spring training ended, has become much less of a concern with Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard pitching well in the fourth and fifth slots. The bullpen, a tangled mess of arms a week ago, is sorting itself out, too, as pitchers adapt to their roles.
Despite the absence of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, the offense has scored 55 runs in the last eight games and manager Bobby Valentine seems to have a better grasp of how best to deploy his players.
“I think we’re all getting to know each other [and] feeling comfortable with things,’’ Valentine said. “This week it seemed like things were coming together nicely, mainly because of the starting pitching, obviously. The bullpen fell in nicely.’’
Had the Red Sox been no-hit by Chicago starter Gavin Floyd, there would have been plenty of explaining to do. But Dustin Pedroia ended the righthander’s bid with a one-out single in the seventh inning.
The shutout was lost a few batters later when David Ortiz doubled and Cody Ross singled to left. Floyd then left the mound to applause from the crowd of 22,811 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Floyd (2-3) allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings. He is 7-0 with a 3.21 earned run average in nine career appearances against the Red Sox. Floyd is 53-58, 4.52 against everybody else.
“His fastball command was great and he’s got a great curveball. He did a great job,’’ Pedroia said. “He wasn’t giving us much to hit. The three at-bats I had off him, I got one pitch to hit and actually got a hit on that one. He kept the ball out of the middle of the zone.’’
Red Sox center fielder Marlon Byrd, a teammate of Floyd in Philadelphia, wasn’t surprised.
“I’ve seen that before, even better,’’ Byrd said. “He can pitch; he’s real good. When he puts it all together he can be very tough.’’
Josh Beckett (2-3) would have been an easy winner on some days. He allowed three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and eight strikeouts.
The three runs came in the first inning. Alex Rios had an RBI single before Adam Dunn lined a high fastball inside the foul pole in right field.
“I didn’t look at it yet. But based on how he hit it, the pitch must have been right over the plate,’’ Beckett said. “Can’t do that with a guy like Dunn.’’
Beckett, who has a 2.93 earned run average in his last four starts, kept the Red Sox in the game but the offense never got going beyond the seventh inning as White Sox relievers Addison Reed and Matt Thornton handled the final seven outs.
The White Sox added a run in the eighth, making sure they would snap a five-game losing streak. Chicago had won only three of its 10 home games before Sunday.
“That was a pretty good road trip as a team,’’ Beckett said. “Any time you play any big league ball club and you sweep one and take three of four from the other one, four-game series are tough enough anyway.’’
The Red Sox were 4-10 and had lost five straight before the road trip. But now there is a sense of direction and the knowledge that they can play well together.
“Guys played their butt off. This was a tough seven days,’’ Valentine said. “We battled the travel; we battled the weather. They’re a tough group.’’
The Sox open a six-game homestand Monday night against Oakland.
“We feel good,’’ Pedroia said. “We had a great road trip. We pitched great; we swung the bats real well. We’re pretty excited to get back home and play good ball.’’
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.