Sox offense fails to shift gears late in game

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Sox offense fails to shift gears late in game

BOSTON -- The Red Sox knew they needed more than two hits to win a ball game. They learned that lesson on Thursday night at Fenway Park in a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

So on Friday night, they switched gears, and finished with 14 hits. Only problem was, the result didn't change.

The Red Sox lost their third straight game, 6-5, in extra innings. But they had plenty of chances to tack onto the five runs they scored in the first three innings.

"With Felix Doubront pitching with a four-run lead, I think they thought there was going to be a different kind of game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine on his offense's mindset. "And then they had to shift gears."

The Twins tied the game at 5-5, thanks to a four-run fifth. And that's where Valentine saw his team try to switch those gears.

But after going down in order in the bottom of the sixth, the Red Sox stranded two runners in the seventh, three in the eighth, and one in the ninth.

The eighth inning was the most painful of the Red Sox offensive struggles on Friday night. With one out, Boston got back-to-back singles from Carl Crawford and Kelly Shoppach, which was followed up by a Mike Aviles walk to load the bases for the top of the order.

But Jacoby Ellsbury struck out swinging, and Dustin Pedroia flied out to right field to end the inning.

"I felt like we were in complete control of the game, and then they had a big inning," said Pedroia. "We just seemed to not be able to find a way to score.

"We had chances. We just didn't come through. That's basically it. They made some good pitches . . . It's just tough.

"We're playing hard," Pedroia later added. "We just, last night, that was awful offensively. And tonight, it was a good game, we just didn't find a way to pull away. When Crawford hit that big home run, we didn't score any more runs. We've got to do a better job of that."

The Red Sox left 10 total runners on base, and finished Friday's loss 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.Their last runner in scoring position came in the bottom of the ninth, with the game still tied at 5-5.

Ryan Lavarnway drove a two-out double off the top of the wall in left-center, and was then replaced with Pedro Ciriaco as the pinch runner. It had all the makings of a dramatic finish, but Will Middlebrooks grounded out to third to end the inning.

"Talent can only go so far," said Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross after the loss. "We have to figure out ways to win. There's a difference between being a really talented group, and being a winning group. On paper, it looks like that, but right now, it just feels like we're treading water. It's not a good feeling. We've got to snap out of it."

Crawford's talent came through with a three-run home run in the third inning that gave the Red Sox a comfortable 5-1 lead at the time. But after that, they couldn't figure out a way to drive in any more runs.

"We had good at-bats, and we had chances, and then we didn't have such good at-bats," said Valentine. "We'll get them tomorrow."

But the number of hits won't matter. The difference will come in the number of hits with runners in scoring position.

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

CHESNUT HILL -- The Red Sox Rookie Development Program is designed to help young players prepare for what playing at the major-league level is like,. That can be valuable for a prospect like Rafael Devers, who hasn’t even made it to Double-A.

But of the eight-man cast at the workout this year, there’s one guy who actually has major-league experience.

Robby Scott joined the Red Sox as a September call-up last season and turned some heads, holding opponents scoreless over six innings of work.

Now the lefty is back working with younger guys to prepare himself for spring training -- something he’s itching to get started.

“It’s one thing that we always talk about,” the left-handed reliever told CSNNE.com “It’s a tough road to get there, but it’s an even tougher and harder road to stay there. And having that taste in September last year was incredible to be a part of it.”

That taste Scott had last fall has only made the desire to rejoin Boston greater.

“Yeah, because now you know what it’s like,” Scott said CSNNE.com. “You see it and you’re there and you’re a part of it. And it’s like, ‘Man, I wanna be there.’ You’re a little bit more hungry.”

And his hunger to pitch with the Red Sox only becomes greater at an event like this where he’s the only one with MLB time.

“They ask on a consistent basis,” Scott started, “ ‘What’s it like?’ ‘What was it like getting there the first day?’ ‘How did the guys react?’ ‘What was it like dealing with the media?’

“That’s what this program is here for, just to kind of gives these guys a little taste of what it is like and get familiar with the circumstances.

While the experience and constant discussion invites players to try to do more in the offseason or change their routine, the 27-year-old has stayed the course, trusting what’s gotten him there.

“The offseason training stays the same, nothing really changes on that side of things,” Scott said. “Nothing changes. Go about my business the way I have the last six, seven years.”

Red Sox prospect Sam Travis 'not at all' worried about knee

Red Sox prospect Sam Travis 'not at all' worried about knee

CHESNUT HILL -- Kyle Schwarber made his triumphant return to the Cubs lineup in the 2016 World Series after missing the regular season with a torn ACL. Only months after the Cubs outfielder tore his ACL, Schwarber’s teammate from Indiana University -- and Red Sox prospect -- Sam Travis suffered the very same injury, missing the end of 2016.

“I actually talked to [Schwarber] quite a bit,” Travis said following the group training session. “He was one step ahead of me at all times . . . He gave me the lowdown, told me that it was like.

“With this kind of injury and the activity we do on a daily basis, it’s going to be something you take care of the rest of your life. Whether it’s treatment or the training room, you’re going to get to 100 percent. But you’re still going to have to take care of it."

Now the first baseman is back on his feet and was even healthy enough to join his teammates in lateral movement drills at the Red Sox rookie development program at Boston College.

If you didn’t know any better while watching him, you’d think the injury never happened. And that’s how Travis is approaching it.

“Not at all [worried about it],” Travis told CSNNE.com. “It’s one of those things you kind of pretend it’s just like your normal knee. You don’t do anything different because that may injury something else. You don’t want to try to prevent something from happening because you my pull your hip or something like that.

“You’ve just gotta go about it and trust yourself.”

That’s a great sign for Travis in his climb to joining the big league club. Getting over the physical portion of an injury takes time, but there’s usually a proven system set in place.

The mental side is another animal entirely and varies from player to player.

Luckily for the Red Sox, Travis doesn’t overthink much of anything.

“Nah, I’m a pretty simple guy,” he said.