Red Sox can't get off the up-and-down roller coaster

Red Sox can't get off the up-and-down roller coaster
June 5, 2014, 8:00 am
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CLEVELAND -- When the Red Sox finally snapped their 10-game losing streak on Memorial Day and followed that up with a seven-game streak in the other direction, they had reason to believe they were leaving their troubles behind.

For a time, the Sox got the timely hits. For a change, the bad hops happened to the other guys.

But here they are, a little more than a week later, right back where they started: in the midst of another losing string, trying to explain another loss, another night when things wouldn't go their way.

And this roller-coaster ride -- down, then up, then down again -- is getting old, fast.

In 2013, the team never lost more than three in a row, nor won more than than five in a row after the third week of April.

This year? Streaks -- good, but mostly bad -- are the rule, rather than the exception.

"For what we've known over the past year-and-a-half, [the streakiness] has been uncharacteristic,'' said John Farrell after his team lost a 12-inning walkoff decision to Cleveland, 7-4, in a game that ended just after 2 a.m. Thursday. "That's got some frustration to it. We've got to continue to find ways to execute when the game calls for it.''

The Sox can't be faulted for their effort. Indeed, of the last 13 losses, five have been by one run and three have come in extra innings.

"We're playing hard,'' said A.J. Pierzynski. "We're in every game. Wer're grinding to death. We're grinding every game, grinding every out, grinding every at-bat, grinding every pitch. There's no lack of effort, or lack of motivation or lack of anything. It's just sometimes it doesn't work out.''

In all three losses to Cleveland, the Red Sox fell behind in the first inning. They stranded a total of six runners in the first inning of the three games, while the Indians scored in every one of their first innings.

It happened again Wednesday. In the bottom of the first, Stephen Drew and Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn't determine who was going to handle a catchable flare to shallow center -- and neither did. The play eventually led to a run.

Even then, the Sox came back. Held to just two hits through the first five innings, David Ortiz put them in front with a two-run homer on an 0-and-2 pitch and it looked like the Sox might escape with a win. But just as quickly, they handed the lead right back and trailed 4-2 after six. To their credit once more, they scored two more in the seventh to tie it again.

If there's a common theme to most losses, it's been the inability to get the big hit when the opportunity presents itself. The Sox were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and a brutal 3-for-21 for the series.

The frustration level at times seems set to boil over.

"It could,'' agreed Jonny Gomes. "But at the same time, you can't allow it to. Maybe you dwell on it a little bit on the day off [Thursday] instead of having to go play. But we didn't lose the game on a bonehead play. We didn't lose the game for a lack of hustle or a mental error. They scored more runs than we did.

"All losses suck, but at the same time, we don't have to be scratching our heads or worrying about playing harder -- those type of things.''

Dustin Pedroia, who endured a rough night at the plate with five hitless appearances after a first-inning single, has convinced himself that the team's offensive failures can't last forever.

"We get opportunities and we don't drive them in, it makes it tough,'' said Pedroia. "It all evens out at the end of the year. But it's obviously frustrating. We're getting our butt kicked. It's not for a lack of effort.

"It will turn around. I believe that. That's part of the game. You go through times when you don't score runs. Or you don't pitch good when you do score runs. Hopefully, we all put it together and go on a run.''

Problem is, the Sox thought they had gone on that run a week ago, ripping off seven straight victories. Yet here they find themselves, back in the same familiar place.

"We haven't been consistent,'' concluded Pedroia. "And it shows.''

In the results. In the standings. And in their faces.