Three things we learned about the Red Sox on Tuesday

Three things we learned about the Red Sox on Tuesday
July 23, 2014, 12:15 pm
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TORONTO -- Three things we learned in the Red Sox' 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday night:

1) Stephen Drew's "spring training'' is apparently over

Drew smacked a two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday night, his second homer in as many days. Over the last 13 games, Drew has a slash line of .244/.367/.610 with four homers, nine RBI and eight walks.

Always notoriously streaky at the plate, Drew has come around in the last two weeks and given the Red Sox some punch in the bottom third of the order.

His defense has been almost flawless since he rejoined the Sox in early June: He's committed just two errors in 32 games and has upped the team's double-play output.

At the plate, his offensive contributions were almost non-existent in the first month. But Drew's .568 slugging percentage in the month of July is indicating of the kind of turnaround he's had with the bat.

If Drew can hit .260 or so the rest of the way, draw some walks and chip in with some extra-base pop, he could help the Sox in their improbable playoff chase.

If he's merely steady in the field without contributing more offensively, the $10 million the Sox paid for the final four months of the season will have been ill-spent.

2) Dustin Pedroia needs some rest

Over the weekend, John Farrell announced that Pedroia would be given some time off during the series. He got Pedroia out of Monday's blowout win in the bottom of the sixth and will hold him out either Wednesday night or in Thursday's getaway matinee.

Pedroia could use the time. He's currently in an 0-for-17 skid, which has dropped his average to .269.

The Red Sox have played exactly 100 games and Pedroia has been in 98 of them, which is commendable. He feels a responsibility to be in the lineup everyday, whether he's healthy or not.

Last year, he played with a thumb injury suffered on Opening Day that required surgical attention in the offseason. This year, he's played through a nagging wrist injury.

Even when Pedroia isn't hitting, he can contribute with his energy and his defense, which has remained superb. But at some point, it only makes sense for him to get a break, even one so soon after the All-Star break.

Pedroia will turn 31 in less than a month. He may not want rest, or think he needs it, but it's only smart for the Red Sox to begin thinking of him as a 150-game player, rather than one intent on playing every inning of every game.

His style of play -- all-out, all the time -- is what makes Pedroia special. But as he ages, there's a price to be paid for that approach. Going forward, it should be balanced with the occasional day off.

3) Felix Doubront isn't helping his cause

Earlier this week, Doubront complained about how little he'd been used of late, having gone two full weeks -- with the All-Star break thrown in -- between appearances after being shifted to the bullpen in late June.

Doubront's role now is that of a long man. When the Red Sox went on a strong 8-1 run, they were routinely getting six and seven innings from their starters, meaning there was no need for Doubront to pitch.

That may have been frustrating for him, understandably. But when Doubront complained about his lack of recent work and suggested he might be better off elsewhere, his timing couldn't have been worse.

At a time when the Sox have begun to insert themselves into the playoff conversation, the last thing anyone in the Red Sox clubhouse wants to hear is a personal gripe. And that bit of selfishness did not sit well with teammates or the staff.

Then, Doubront compounded things by allowing two runs in the eighth inning Tuesday night. Instead of trailing 5-1 heading into the ninth, the Red Sox were down by six. And when they got a two-run homer from Drew in the ninth and later put two baserunners on for David Ortiz, the complexion of the game changed dramatically.

Worse, the two runs off Dounbront came when the Jays executed a steal of second, putting a baserunner in scoring position. As has happened before, Doubront didn't seem to pay much attention to the runner on first, essentially giving him a free pass.

It's precisely that lack of focus -- to say nothing of his ill-timed comments about his role -- that paints Doubront as inconsistent and underperforming.