The Red Sox faced difficult circumstances tonight, having returned from a long, exhausting road trip and playing without Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis. They responded, as one might expect, with perhaps their sloppiest performance at Fenway Park this season in a 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, who entered tied for the worst record in the American League.
The challenges before the Red Sox gave them an excuse. Mike Lowell refused to use them as such.
“I thought we kind of left him off the hook a couple times,” Lowell said of Indians starter Carl Pavano. “It seemed like our energy was just a little bit not where it should be. I don’t know if we needed to have a better killer instinct. It’s easy to say it after the fact. But I don’t think we did our jobs as good as we should have.”
Letting Pavano off the hook rang true. The Red Sox loaded the bases in the second inning with no outs, and Jeff Bailey promptly grounded into a double play. Jonathan Van Every, Ellsbury's replacement, followed with an RBI single. The Red Sox would not score again, even though they loaded the bases in the fourth with one out. Nick Green struck out, and J.D. Drew grounded to second.
"We didn't swing that bats very well," said Dustin Pedroia, who 0 for 4. "That's pretty much it."
The Red Sox got back from an arduous, three-city road trip that included an extra-inning game in Cleveland and two rainy marathons in New York.
“I don’t think it helps,” Lowell said. “I got in at 3 or 4 in the morning four times during this road trip, and it’s not because I’m painting the town red. But, I mean, that’s part of the business. Like my high school coach always said, when you feel like crap, you have to will yourself to be great. That's a good motto to follow."
Playing without their leadoff hitter and cleanup hitter didn't help, either. But, as Lowell was quick to point out, Jonathan Van Every, Ellsbury's replacement, went 2 for 3 and provided the only Red Sox RBI.
"We’ve got guys that we can plug in and do that job. It was definitely different. Not to discredit those guys -- Youk and Ells are big parts of our team. But, hey, that's what we're dealt with. The lineup we throw out there could have definitely won.”