BOSTON It wasnt because the Red Sox didnt have their chances. In fact, they had very good chances in the seventh and eighth innings. But both times they came up empty. The result, another loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. This time they fell, 2-1.The Sox gave Josh Beckett a tenuous 1-0 lead after the third inning. Becket was cruising through the Os lineup, facing the minimum through five innings.But after six, the Os lead 2-1.The Sox had good scoring opportunities in both the seventh and eighth innings.In the seventh inning, against left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, the Sox had runners on first and second with no outs, and second and third with one out after Darnell McDonalds sacrifice bunt. But Marlon Byrd struck out and Mike Aviles popped out to end the rally.In the eighth, against reliever Pedro Strop, the Sox had runners on first and second with one out. Dustin Pedroia, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, struck out to open the inning. Strop then issued back-to-back walks to Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. But Will Middlebrooks flied out to center and Scott Podsednik, who entered the game in the seventh as a pinch-runner for Adrian Gonzalez, grounded out to Mark Reynolds at first base.That virtually sealed their fate and the game. With Os closer Jim Johnson entering in the ninth, the Sox would be hard-pressed to repeat their ninth-inning dramatics of Tuesday night. Johnson, who blew his first save of the season Tuesday night before getting the win in the 10th, came in for the ninth. This time he did not disappoint the Os, getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out before striking out pinch-hitters Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava. It was Johnsons 18th save in 19 chances this season.The seventh we have first and second and Darnell executes a nice bunt, said manager Bobby Valentine. Theyre going to play the infield back second and third. All we need is contact for a tie game, base hit for a lead and Marlon hasnt struck out that many times against left-handers. He struck out. And in the eighth we just were one swing short.Thats exactly what it came down to, Aviles said. Their pitchers basically outpitched our hitters. Thats really what it came down to. It was a great-pitched ball game all around. Josh pitched unbelievably well and he definitely deserved to win and unfortunately we werent able to back him up with the bats.Its a situation in which the Sox have been successful many times in the past.I think we were all pretty comfortable and confident that something was going to happen, especially with Byrdie, Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. He did a great job earlier in the game getting the guy over. It ended up being a hit so we had first and third. It ended up getting us our first run with the next batter. So full confidence in that, in every one of the guys. Still do.The Sox were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and left eight runners on base. This is a different Baltimore team than the Sox have been used to seeing in the past few years.Their pitching is great, Ortiz said. Im not going to lie to you. Their pitching, those guys have been pitching really good and their offense, whenever they get into those situations they score.Going back to last season, the Sox are winless in their last seven games at home against the Orioles, the longest home losing streak to Baltimore in team history.Well play better. Thats all I got, said Pedroia.
The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.