Red Sox bats quiet again in loss to Indians

Red Sox bats quiet again in loss to Indians
June 15, 2014, 9:00 pm

BOSTON -- On his knees behind the first-base bag, Brock Holt slammed his helmet to the dirt in frustration. It was another opportunity wasted.

Just a moment earlier, Holt had stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game with the Indians. With two outs and the bases loaded, Holt had a chance to add another chapter to the ever-growing legend of his startlingly good 2014 season.

He grounded out on a chopper to second baseman Jason Kipnis, sprinting so hard to beat the throw that he fell head first to the ground immediately after touching the base.

"Trying to get to first base to win the game there," Holt said. "I chopped it into the ground, the field was kind of hard there at that point. Knew it was going to be a tougher play. Just tried to get down the line as quick as possible and Kipnis made a good play on it."

In Boston's 3-2 loss to the Indians was featured one of the biggest struggles that has faced the team all season: the elusiveness of the timely hit.

The Red Sox left eight men on base Sunday and scored fewer than three runs for the fourth time in the last seven games. They had just three hits in the final 10 innings of play.

In the ninth inning, the Sox had two men on with one out two batters before Holt, but Cleveland reliever John Axford got Stephen Drew to strike out on a fastball that hovered in the high-90s.

"It's been elusive," Farrell said of his team's ability to find key hits. "I can't say that we change our approach. One through nine, it's not like we're going about it differently. But it's been elusive."

Holt explained that perhaps some of the team's hitters are pressing in big spots.

Drew chalked it up to baseball being baseball. The nature of the game is such that these things even out. 

"We're gonna pick it up," Drew said. "It's gonna come around, and this group we have, we have a bunch of confidence in ourselves and I think the tables will turn."
 
AJ Pierzynski sounded a similar refrain, saying he believed the team's approach was a good one. And he wasn't wrong. The Red Sox got Indians starter Corey Kluber out of the game with 99 pitches in 5.1 innings. They worked seven walks.
 
Pierzynski himself -- one of the least patient hitters on the team -- put together a 10-pitch at-bar in the fourth inning to drive up Kluber's count.
 
"All we can do it keep going out there and getting guys on base and working," Pierzynski said. "There's nothing you can do. You can't control it once you hit the ball. Once you hit the ball, the ball goes where it goes. I think guys are putting good at-bats on pitchers. We got Kluber out today in the fifth or sixth and had nothing but good at-bats off of him to get there. 
 
"Guys hit some balls hard. [The Indians] made good plays. There's nothing you can do. All you can do is keep trying, and this team's not gonna stop doing that."
 
The effort has seemingly been there all season, but the clutch hits have not. Sunday's loss -- and Holt's all-out sprint that went for naught -- was a reminder of that.