Red Sox continue to struggle offensively

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Red Sox continue to struggle offensively

TORONTO -- When the season began a week ago, much of the attention was focused on a suspect starting rotation and a reshuffled bullpen.
But six games into the season, it's been the offense -- of all things -- that has hurt the Red Sox.
In five of their losses to date, the Red Sox have scored three runs or fewer. Only once, in fact, have they scored more four runs in a game, and in that contest, the pitching was so bad that not even a dozen runs could buy a victory.
As a team, the Sox are hitting a woeful .236 and have just two homers.
On Wednesday, the Sox mustered just three hits -- all in the same inning (the third) when they scored their lone run. From the end of the third through the end of the eighth, they didn't have a single baserunner.
Even in the ninth, when Toronto lefty Ricky Romero faltered and walked the first two hitters of the inning, the Sox still couldn't produce a run, leaving the potential tying run in scoring position against closer Sergio Santos.
Part of the problem has been the lineup's inability to get any runs early in games. In six games, the Sox have scored a grand total of three runs before the sixth inning.
"It comes and goes," shrugged Kevin Youkilis, who was 0-for-4. "You're going to have streaks when you're tearing the cover off the ball and scoring a lot of runs and sometimes you're not."
"It will even out," vowed Dustin Pedroia. "I think early, you press and you want to get off to a great start and it takes you out of your approach."
Romero had five 1-2-3 innings in a row Wednesday and the Sox seemed to be making his job easier by being overly aggressive at the plate.
"We need to get back to the basics," said Pedroia. "Seeing the ball, having deep counts and trying to knock that starter out of the game. We need to start having better at-bats earlier in the game and score first to give our pitchers some breathing room. We haven't done that yet."
Manager Bobby Valentine bemoaned some tough luck, noting that the Sox had two hard-hit balls in the first inning alone caught on the warning track.
"I thought we hit a lot of balls really hard and had nothing to show for it," said Valentine. "We hit some balls right to Death Valley. I thought we swung the bats well, but just couldn't get it going because balls were right at people.
I think the offense is fine. We've got a lot of really good players who keep swinging the bats well. We're having good at-bats. It's not like we're walking back to the bench holding our bats. We're walking back in disbelief most of the time."

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Patriots punter Ryan Allen named AFC special teams player of the week

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Patriots punter Ryan Allen named AFC special teams player of the week

FOXBORO -- Ryan Allen was the definition of an x-factor on Thursday night against the Texans. 

He punted seven times for an average of 47.6 yards per boot, and none of them were returned. A career-high six of his seven landed inside the 20-yard line, and the one that did not was marked right at the 20. He dropped his other punts at the 11, 10, 10, 14, 5 and 4-yard lines, helping to limit Houston's average starting field position to the 15-yard line. 

Allen has won the award now twice in his career. He also took it home in 2014 following a Week 14 win over the Chargers.

It is the second AFC Player of the Week honor for a Patriots special teamer this year. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski picked it up after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Cardinals back in Week 1.