The good news after the Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games — 2-1 to the White Sox — came courtesy of the x-rays that revealed no break in the ring finger on Mike Napoli’s left hand. The first baseman merely dislocated the digit during a head-first dive into second base during Tuesday’s ninth inning, so instead of something that might’ve sidelined him for a longer term he’s day-to-day, according to manager John Farrell.
The Sox can ill-afford to lose Napoli for an extended period at this point, not only because he’s Boston’s clean-up hitter, or because of the other injuries already plaguing the club, but because he and Grady Sizemore have really been the only consistent producers lately in a lineup that’s generated just 16 runs in its last six games, and 3.36 per game for the season (which is 12th in the 15-team American League).
Tuesday night Napoli had one of the Sox’ three hits, and also drew a walk. He’s reached base in 13 of 14 games this season, and he’s hitting .302 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .903 OPS. Sizemore’s numbers in those same three categories are .308, .357, and .870 — making he and Napoli the only Sox hitters who’ve appeared in at least five games to this point and posted an OPS better than .730. Last year’s champs finished with a team-wide OPS of .795.
There had to be some hope a few others would bust out Monday, when they faced a starter whose ERA sat at 9.58 after his first two starts. But Erik Johnson left with two outs in the seventh, having allowed only three hits while striking out nine. With temperatures in the 30s it was hardly a good night for hitting, so that was working against the Sox — but their struggles have hardly been limited to a single night in the Windy City.
Looking at the lineup beyond Napoli and Sizemore, here’s a look at the individual struggles that have led to the team’s collective failure of late:
*Xander Bogaerts: Six innings before his throwing error gave the White Sox a walkoff win, the shortstop came up with runners on second and third and two outs — and struck out swinging. He’s now 0-for-12 this season with men in scoring position, 0-for-17 with a runner on any base, and 4-for-25 overall since April 8. His average is down to .260 and he’s still without an RBI on the year.
*David Ortiz: After going 0-for-4 on Monday, his OBP is .293 this season. It’s just .233 since the home opener, and if you’re seeking evidence of just how important his resurgence would be, consider that the DH’s OPS is 1.215 in Red Sox wins, compared to .400 in losses.
*Daniel Nava: He homered for the second time in four games on Monday — but those represent two of his three hits in the past week. He’s batting .176 over that time, albeit with a .111 average on balls in play, which suggests some degree of misfortune.
*A.J. Pierzynski: The catcher is 2-for-12 on the current road trip, though he has walked once and been hit by two pitches. He remains without an extra-base hit in a Red Sox uniform, however.
*Ryan Roberts: Roberts walked in each of his first two plate appearances after signing with Boston. Since then he’s reached base twice in 14 opportunities, both via singles on Sunday, and Sox third basemen (primarily he and Jonathan Herrera since Will Middlebrooks was placed on the DL) are now batting .195 on the year.
*Jackie Bradley Jr.: His ability to work a walk has put him on base in eight of his last nine games, and kept his OBP at .366 for the season, however he’s 1-for-15 since posting consecutive multi-hit games against the Rangers.
*Jonathan Herrera: With hits in two straight contests, he’s up to .227 for the season.
*Dustin Pedroia: Farrell is hopeful his second baseman will return to that position Wednesday, but just because Pedroia doesn’t have a serious wrist injury doesn’t mean he’ll instantly return to form. Likely the result of his ailment, he was 5-for-36 before being sent for tests, and this season his OPS+ of 48 ranks seventh-worst among qualifying AL hitters.
*Jonny Gomes: He’s struck out in every game he’s played — including Tuesday, when his action was limited to one at-bat. That’s 14 whiffs in 29 at-bats, resulting in a .207 average and a .324 OBP. He may consider it worth noting, though: The Sox are 4-3 when he starts, 1-6 when he doesn’t.
*Mike Carp: He’s 3-for-14 on the season, including 0-for-4 as a pinch-hitter — the role in which he had a 1.048 OPS in 24 attempts last year.
*David Ross: Somewhat surprisingly he’s started only four of 14 games to this point, His average is .231, his OBP is .286, but the Sox are 3-1 when he’s behind the plate so his offensive impact (positive or negative) has been minimal.