Thursday was a day of missed opportunities for the Red Sox, getting swept in the doubleheader by the Rays at Fenway Park:
-- To go above .500 for just the second time all season and first since April 3.
-- To get back to .500 at Fenway.
-- To take two games -- or at least one -- from a team that entered the twin bill in a downward spiral, losing seven of their previous eight road game, with a scuffling rotation and overworked bullpen.
The Sox had sufficient opportunities to do all of that, though, losing both games by one run. Although, the Sox offense struggled to find hit, with just six in each game, they were offered plenty of baserunners thanks to a total of 17 walks issued by Rays pitchers, 10 in the early game, 7 in the nightcap.
But the Sox went a combined 4-for22 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 35 runners on base. The Sox were 0-for-4 with less than two outs and runners on third.
They were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the night cap, 4-for-22 overall. The left 10 runners on base in the second game, 21 total. The Sox were 0-for-4 with less than two outs and runners on third. They left a combined 10 runners in scoring position with two outs.
Most glaring was in the second game, when the Sox put the lead batter on in each inning, but stranded him at third base.
In the eighth, after the Rays had tied the game in the top of the inning, Xander Bogaerts led off with a double off Jake McGee, taking third on A.J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice bunt. Will Middlebrooks struck out, Jackie Bradley walked and Dustin Pedroia grounded out to end the inning.
Shane Victorino led off the ninth with a double, moving to third on David Ortiz’s ground out. Mike Napoli struck out looking against Grant Balfour before Grady Sizemore worked a two-out walk. But Xander Bogaerts struck out looking, stranding Victorino as the tying run on third base.
Before that, the Sox had erased a two-run deficit with a five-run fifth inning, taking a 5-2 lead. But starter Felix Doubront immediately gave some of that back in the sixth, with a two-run home run to Sean Rodriguez, who entered the game hitting .167 but went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.
“Seemingly [missed opportunities] was the story of the day, considering the number of opportunities we created for ourself,” said manager John Farrell. “A number of runners in scoring position, all the way thru the final three innings in game one, again here in game two. And when we did get a two-out base hit, part of the five-run inning that we were able to build, unfortunately we gave two right back to allow the momentum to shift back to their side.”
Farrell attempted to find the silver lining for the day.
“The one thing I will say is that we continue to create those opportunities,” he said. “Things will turn. And yet, that RBI-base hit with runners in scoring position is elusive right now.”
Batting with runners in scoring position is something the Sox have struggled with for much of the season. They are hitting a combined .223, going 58-for-26 with runners in scoring position, leaving an average of 8.31 runners on base per game.
“I think when they’ve had opportunities elude us there might be human nature tendency to try to do a little bit more as that opportunity keeps presenting itself,” Farrell said. “But we still have to maintain the approach to create those opportunities, which we’re doing a very good job on that. But it’s cashing in is where we’ve come up short.”