Scutaro, Crawford come up short key moments

191542.jpg

Scutaro, Crawford come up short key moments

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BALTIMORE -- In a season-ending loss -- especially one so dramatic -- there are bound to be those who get the lion's share of the blame.

In the crushing 4-3 defeat for the Red Sox Wednesday night, Carl Crawford and Marco Scutaro were front-and-center.

Scutaro made a critical baserunning error in the bottom of the eighth inning that cost the Red Sox what would have been a vital insurance run.

With one out in the eighth and Scutaro on first base, Crawford sliced a double to left-center. Scutaro took off from first and rounded second.

As the ball got by left fielder Nolan Reimold and center fielder Adam Jones raced to retrieve the ball near the warning track, Scutaro inexplicably stopped between second and third and for an instant, appeared to head back to second.

He quickly reversed field again and was waived home by third-base coach Tim Bogar. But the reversal on the basepaths cost Scutaro valuable time and he was thrown out at the plate.

"When Reimold dove for the ball," recounted Scutaro, "the ball kind of went underneath and I couldn't see the ball at all. So I heard the crowd cheering and I didn't know if it was our fans or their fans, so I didn't know if he made the play or not.

"I just had a bad read and I should have, I guess, just kept going. If he would have caught the ball, it was probably going to be a double play. What can I say? Things happen."

"He thought it got caught," said Terry Francona. "At that point, it's probably human nature for him to stop, but there was nowhere for him to go. It was unfortunate."

As Scutaro came back to the dugout, he wasn't thinking about the significance of the out or how costly it might be. After all, the Red Sox had the lead with six outs to go.

"I'm not thinking about the fallout," he said. "I'm thinking about getting the outs. We had the lead and we were in a pretty good situation with Jonathan Papelbon coming in to pitch the ninth."

In the ninth, after back-to-back doubles by Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold tied the score, the Orioles had the potential winning run on second in Reimold with Robert Andino at the plate.

Andino hit a sinking liner to left that Crawford came in on. He made a diving attempt for the ball, but couldn't glove it. With two outs and Reimold running on the play, Crawford's throw to the plate was too late.

It would have hardly been a routine catch for Crawford, but it's one superb outfielders can make.

"I thought I had a play on it," said Crawford, "but it was a tough play and unfortunately I couldn't make it. It was low so I knew I had to slide and get up under it and I wasn't able to. I definitely had to try to make a sliding catch."

From the dugout, Francona had his fingers crossed.

"I hoped he had a chance," said Francona of Crawford. "He gave it his best shot. It didn't work."

The ending was not what Crawford envisioned when he signed his landmark seven-year, 142 million deal last December.

"It's very disappointing because we had high expectations," he said, "and we didn't live up to them."

"It's pretty sad," concluded Scutaro. "We battled the whole year. We fight and we fight and we came up short by one game. It feels pretty bad. You start thinking back to all the games we should have won earlier in the season, or in the middle of the season, or whatever.

"You know what, man? That's baseball. You can do nothing about it now."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

MORE RED SOX

At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.