It would be one thing if the Red Sox were playing the game right and losing. But they’re losing and making a lot of mental mistakes.
The latest example came in the fifth inning today. Jacoby Ellsbury was on second with two outs and Dustin Pedroia up. In that situation, running on contact, he scores on any base hit outside of an infield single. But Ellsbury tried to steal third and Jeff Niemann caught him.
Niemann stepped off the rubber and threw to third, ending the inning.
“It’s a situation where he’s probably trying to do too much,” Terry Francona said. “It wasn’t necessary. His intentions were good, [but] it was ill-advised. If you’re going to run in that situation, it’s got to be 100 percent. He knows that.”
Ellsbury had left the clubhouse by the time reporters were allowed in 10 minutes after the game.
Marco Scutaro also made a mistake, according to Francona, when he failed to signal to Carl Crawford to slide in the third inning. Crawford crossed the plate standing and was nearly out. Scutaro, however, claimed he did signal.
Meanwhile, those two bunts Scutaro had with runners on first and second (one in the third inning and one in the seventh) came on orders from Francona. The Sox scored a run on an Ellsbury sacrifice fly in the third inning. But Scutaro bunted the ball too hard in the seventh inning and the runner was thrown out at second.
The bunts seemed odd for two reasons:
1. The Red Sox rarely sacrifice, having done it 20 times all season before today. That’s the fewest in baseball. It’s pretty much against organizational philosophy to give up an out.
2. Scutaro was 16 of 37 with six extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in the previous 10 games. He would seem to be the exact batter you want up with a runner on second, not somebody who you want to give themselves up.
You don’t go 4-12 in September by accident. These things add up.