Going strictly by the number of sacrifice bunts they've been credited with - exactly two - the Red Sox haven't changed their offensive philosophy much this season.
But that's highly misleading. On seven other occasions, the Red Sox have bunted - either for infield hits, or into outs of some sort. And that doesn't count the
number of times hitters have squared to bunt and missed, or fouled off attempts, only to swing away later in the at-bat.''
It happened three times in the last four innings Sunday alone, with Jackie Bradley and A.J. Pierzynski getting thrown out in their tries. Bradley later tried again, but after failing to get his first attempt down, swung away and hit into a fielder's choice.
"You always walk through the same thought process,'' said John Farrell, looking back to Sunday. "The matchup is one (aspect). Is there any personal history with that (batter-pitcher) matchup. (Others are) Where are we in the game? What's the score in a given spot? And ultimately, do you factor in continuing to build confidence in a young player.
"In a matter of about 12 seconds, you determine whether you're going to bunt or not. There's about four things that you consider and you trust the information you have at hand and continue on. The biggest thing is if you're all over the map and changing just because the direction of the wind is blowing, players aren't going to follow the thought or anticipate what's coming up.''
With offense down across the board - as recently as 2006, 13 teams (or nearly half) scored 800 runs for the season; in 2013, the Red Sox were the only team to do so - managers are looking for runs anywhere they can find them.
"If you look at runs scored overall, they're down across the board,'' said Farrell. "Manufacturing runs, the way the game is intended to be played, probably comes back into vogue and needed a little bit more. Does that give you reason to manufacture runs? In my mind, yes it does. It doesn't eliminate or discard the value of an out - that's clear.
''But as the game has come back where the one-dimensional offensive guy isn't so much in the game anymore, there are situations where you've got to manufacture a little bit more.''
That was especially true earlier in the year when the Sox were without Will Middlebrooks (DL with calf strain) and Jackie Bradley Jr. was hitting under .200 (he's since improved somewhat) and Farrell though he had to consider the weakness of the lower third of his batting order.
Now that Middlebrooks has returned and Bradley has offered some offense, that's not as much of a consideration.