First Pitch: Red Sox offense has lost its grip

809880.jpg

First Pitch: Red Sox offense has lost its grip

OAKLAND -- Cody Ross, surveying the carnage in the wake of a hugely disappointing road trip, let out an audible sigh when he was asked about the underperforming Red Sox lineup.
The same lineup that scored a grand total of 14 runs in seven games.
The same lineup that hit a not-so-robust .200 (48-for-240) for the trip.
The same lineup that was a brutal .114 (5-for-44) in the last seven games.
Yes, that one.
The same one, by the way, that is still ranked second in the American League in runs scored, third in the league in slugging and first in extra-base hits.
"I mean . . . I don't know . . . there's really no words for it,'' concluded Ross after Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Oakland, which sent the Sox back home with a 2-5 mark in the seven games against the A's and Seattle Mariners. "That's baseball.''
It's just not very good baseball on the part of the Red Sox.
In the seven games out west, the Red Sox offense went south. Only once did the team score more than two runs in any one game. Until the road-trip finale, only one player had more one RBI (Jarrod Saltalamacchia).
The Sox managed seven homers on the trip, but tellingly, six of them came with the bases empty.
"Our offense has just been that terrible,'' said Ross. "There's no need to sugarcoat it. It sucked, basically.''
Actually, the trip continued a season-long pattern. The Sox have the second-most runs in the game as a team and when the trip began had the second-biggest run differential of any team in the American League.
But that speaks to the Sox' habit of piling on in one-sided games. Twelve times they've scored double figures in runs.
In lower-scoring games, however, they seem unable to come up with the necessary hit when it's needed the most. When the Sox score four runs or fewer, they're a lowly 7-35.
Certainly, no blame can be assigned to the pitching on the trip. In the seven games, the Red Sox got quality starts six times. And even when they didn't -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's one-inning-plus implosion Monday night -- they got seven innings of one-run relief from the bullpen, keeping the game within reach.
Not that the offense took advantage.
"As good as our offense is,'' said Ross, "to get three-hit Wednesday . . . I think we scored all of eight runs (actually, 14) for the road trip. That's crazy. We've scored eight runs in an inning before and against really good teams. Out here we played two teams that are sub-.500 and got the crap beat out of us.''
The culprits were eveerywhere. Three players -- Saltalamacchia, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia -- combined to knock in almost half (six) of the 14 runs for the tripl
Adrian Gonzalez, whom the Sox are paying handsomely to produce runs, didn't drive home a single run until he singled home Ortiz in the sixth inning of the final game on the trip.
"We're all pressing,'' acknowledged Ross. "We're all trying to get something going. We're not getting that big hit when we need it. We can't seem to push anything across.''
Perhaps the Yankees, coming to town for a four-game set which will wrap up the first half, are just the tonic. The Yanks are without their two best starters (CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte) and their mere presence may create some energy and excitement at Fenway, enough to rouse the slumbering Boston attack.
That's the hope, from the Red Sox' perspective, anyway. Nothing else seemed to work on the road, including and especially their bats.

Merloni: Pablo Sandoval is the key to the bottom of Red Sox order

Merloni: Pablo Sandoval is the key to the bottom of Red Sox order

The guys on The Baseball Show discuss Pablo Sandoval lighting it up in spring training and if he could continue that in the regular season.

Sale hurls five shutout innings, Sandoval has two hits as Sox romp, 7-2

Sale hurls five shutout innings, Sandoval has two hits as Sox romp, 7-2

Chris Sale threw five shutout innings and Pablo Sandoval continued his torrid spring with two more hits as the Red Sox routed the Twins, 7-2, Sunday at the Twins' Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Twins box score

Sale allowed six hits, with one walk and six strikeouts, in his 91-pitch outing. Manager John Farrell had told reporters before the game that Sale was scheduled to throw between 95 and 100 pitches. He has 26 strikeouts and 2 walks in 21 spring-training innings.

Sandoval lifted his exhibition average to .370 with a 2-for-3 performance, which included a double.

The Red Sox also got home runs from Christian Vazquez, Andrew Benintendi and Steve Selsky as they rallied from a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the seventh inning and four in the eighth.