Red Sox feel the squeeze
Bunt, wild pitch add to their woes
ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Beckett had thrown 108 pitches when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine went out to the mound in the seventh inning on Wednesday night.
The Texas Rangers had runners on first and third with two outs in a tie game. But Valentine’s meeting with his pitcher was a quick one.
“Just to make sure he had enough,” Valentine said. “Josh was barely even winded.”
That faith was misplaced. Beckett threw a wild pitch, the Rangers scored, and the Red Sox were on their way to an agonizing 5-3 loss.
With Michael Young at the plate, Beckett threw a changeup that bounced in the lefthanded batter’s box and got past Kelly Shoppach. Elvis Andrus, who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, scored without a play.
It was the second time in as many games the Sox allowed a run on a wild pitch. It didn’t cost them on Tuesday, but it lost the game on Wednesday.
“A wild pitch to score a go-ahead run? A damn shame,” Valentine said.
Beckett left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in. He was spotted in the concourse later, posing for photos with family and friends.
Beckett was approached as he was walking alone to the team bus. He said he was trying to throw the pitch for a strike and “just yanked it.”
He refused to answer further questions.
Beckett left it to teammates and Valentine to speak about a mistake they didn’t make. That has become a common practice for Beckett this season. The righthander is now 5-9 and has one victory in his last nine starts.
“It’s tough because we’re playing so hard,” said rookie Will Middlebrooks, 2 for 4 with a home run. “We tried to get runs to support Josh. He went out and pitched his butt off.”
Beckett allowed four runs on nine hits in seven innings. He struck out two and walked three. The Rangers added a run when Nelson Cruz homered off Matt Albers in the eighth inning.
“We have to score more runs. We have to play batter. It’s frustrating,” said Dustin Pedroia, who often ends up speaking in place of absent teammates.
That the game was decided by a wild pitch only added to the frustration.
“It’s tough,” Pedroia said. “The ball kind of cut at the last second and got by [Shoppach].”
The Sox have lost five of their last six games and 13 of their last 20. After a day off on Thursday, they open a three-game series against the first-place Yankees in New York. The Sox trail their rivals by 10½ games in the American League East.
“We realize we’re getting to a point where we have to go on some kind of win streak,” Cody Ross said. “We’re running out of chances.”
Texas starter Derek Holland (7-5) allowed three hits on five hits over 7⅔ innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
Mike Adams got the final out of the eighth inning before Joe Nathan closed the Red Sox for his 20th save.
The Sox were held to five hits, two after the fourth inning. They have scored 17 runs in their last six games.
The Sox scored a run in the first inning but lamented not coming away with more.
Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk off Holland before Pedro Ciriaco singled to right field, sending Ellsbury to third.
A potential big inning sputtered when Pedroia grounded into a double play. Holland then hit Adrian Gonzalez in the hip with a fastball, clear retaliation for Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla hitting Adrian Beltre in the back of the helmet with a fastball in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
The lead grew to 2-0 in the fourth when Middlebrooks lined a changeup over the fence in left field for his 12th home run.
Beckett to that point had given up three hits and two walks, but no runs. The good fortune ended in the fourth as Texas scored three runs on five hits.
Young started the inning with a double to right field. Cruz grounded to third before David Murphy drove an RBI double to center field.
Yorvit Torrealba singled to left field, moving Murphy to third. The Rangers then squeezed in their second run, Craig Gentry bunting the ball in front of the plate as Murphy came in.
Ian Kinsler, who on Tuesday was ejected in the first inning after being picked off first base, hit a popup behind second base that fell in for an RBI single. Ross tried to make a sliding catch but could not come up with the ball.
Pedroia tied it in the sixth inning with his seventh home run, a blast into the Red Sox bullpen in left-center.
Beckett got tough after the fourth inning, retiring the side in order in the fifth and sixth, allowing one ball out of the infield.
With one out in the seventh, Beckett hit Andrus with a fastball. Josh Hamilton struck out, but Beltre singled to right field, pushing Andrus to third.
Valentine came to the mound and decided he trusted Beckett with Young. A wild pitch in that situation was the last thing he expected. It was the second wild pitch for Beckett all season.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Valentine said.
Sounds like the story of the season.
“We’re going to play as hard as we can the rest of the way. It’s not like we’re quitting,” Pedroia said.