BALTIMORE -- In the midst of a demanding stretch of the schedule coming out of All-Star break, the Red Sox' bats have picked the wrong time to go into storage.
For the second time in the last four games and third time in the last eight, the Red Sox were shutout Friday night, with Chris Tillman and two starters combining to blank them, 6-0. In six of the last nine games, dating back shortly before the break, the Sox have scored two runs or fewer.
"We've got to adjust to the pitcher on the mound,'' said a frustrated John Farrell. "In those games, they've attacked the strike zone, they've pitched ahead in the count. The opposition has attacked the strike zone early and gotten ahead of us.''
The Sox knew they were in the middle of a tough week, having to face Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Moore, David Price and Tillman. But they have little to show for it, scoring a total of three runs in those four games.
Dustin Pedroia sees the Sox getting away from their approach of late.
"What makes us good is grinding out at-bats,'' said Pedroia. "I think a lot of guys are trying too hard right now. We've got to let the game come to us and find a way, if the starter's got great stuff, get him out of there and we haven't done that for the last week or so. We'll get back to that (Saturday) and starting being a better team offensively.''
The Sox had a stretch like this in May, when they went 2-9 in 11 games before turning it around. Pedroia said dips like this happen over the course of a six-month long season. But as the losses pile up -- six in the last nine games -- it seems as if some of the hitters are pressing a bit, all trying to be the hero.
"There's times when two or three guys go in funks and other guys step up,'' he said. "It seems like right now, everybody's trying to be the guy that gets out of it. That makes it tough because then you try too hard and you get out of what makes you good. We've just got to kind of take a step back and have quality at-bats and pass it to the next guy.''
The closest the Sox came to doing any damage came back in the first inning when a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia and back-to-back walks to David Oritz and Mike Napoli loaded the bases. But Tillman fanned Daniel Nava on three pitches and the Sox had just one more baserunner in scoring position the rest of the way.
"We had the making of an inning in the first,'' said John Farrell, "and couldn't push one across and then Tillman settled in. He threw a lot of strikes. (He had a) good curveball and changeup when he needed it, but his fastball got some swing-and-misses, particularly to our righthanders. And when we did square a ball up, it seemingly was right at someone.''
"First game of the series,'' said Pedroia, "if we get a big hit there, it quiets the crowd a little bit and gets us rolling. But I like the way we got to that point. The more opportunities we have with the bases loaded and guy's grind out at-bats -- that's what makes us good. Over and over, one through nine. We've got to get back to that.''