Farrell on clutch hitting: 'Opportunities elude us'

Farrell on clutch hitting: 'Opportunities elude us'
May 2, 2014, 8:00 am
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BOSTON -- On Opening Day, the Red Sox had difficulty with runners in scoring position.

Nearly five weeks later, and just over a month into the season, it's still a weakness with the team.

After going 1-for-10 in such situations in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox were just 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position in a frustrating 6-5 loss in the nightcap.

In both games, the Rays' pitching staff offered plenty of opportunities.

The Rays walked seven in the day game and 10 more in the night game, giving the Sox chance after chance.

Too often, they produced nothing.

This was particularly costly in the late innings of the second loss.

In both the eighth and ninth innings, the Sox put the leadoff man in scoring position with doubles from Xander Bogaerts (eighth inning) and Shane Victorino (ninth inning).

Both times, the Sox successfully moved the runner to third - once with a bunt and once with a groundout to the right side. But on both occasions, the baserunner was stranded at third.

"Seemingly, it was the story of the day,'' said John Farrell, reflecting on the missed chances the Sox had. "We created a number of opportunities for ourselves, with a number of runners in scoring position, from the final few innings of Game 1 and continuing here in Game 2.''

Farrell senses some frustration on the part of his players when they fail to come through in big spots, and that just results in hitters sometimes attempting to do too much.

"When we've had opportunities elude us,'' said Farrell, "there might be human nature or a tendency to do a little bit more. But we have to maintain the approach to create those opportunities, which we are. We're doing a very good job at that. But it's cashing in where we've come up short.''

"We're all out there trying,'' insisted Mike Napoli, who took a called third strike from Tampa Bay closer Grant Balfour with a runner on third in the ninth. "We're not going up there trying to make outs. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm going up there trying to give a tough at-bat every time. It's just not happening.''

Meanwhile, Farrell searched for a positive spin as his team absorbed two more losses, both by a run.

"The one thing I will say is that we continue to create those opportunities,'' said Farrell. "Things will turn and yet that RBI base hit with runners in scoring position is elusive right now.''