In that inning, the Indians were able to jump on erratic pitching and spotty defense by the Red Sox, scoring two runs, the first on a missed catch error by catcher A.J. Pierzynski to tie the score, the latter off a rare Junichi Tazawa walk.
While it’s hard to justify the outings by Craig Breslow — who was shaky again — or Tazawa, as well as the mishandled throw by Pierzynski on a perfect throw by Dustin Pedroia, it’s just as hard to pin the loss on that sequence of events.
The Red Sox’s lineup was given plenty of opportunity to put away the Tribe early. And not unlike much of the 2014 season to date, the offense failed to deliver.
The Red Sox put the lead runner on four times that day. Between those four frames, there was just one run to show for it. In the other three innings, the Indians’ pitching induced double plays in each one. With three double plays on the afternoon, the Red Sox have 65 on the season, second only to the Texas Rangers, who have grounded into 68.
It’s a troubling trend.
Boston put 12 runners on base Saturday; just two crossed the plate. The theme has the Red Sox at 31-37 through 68 games, tied with the Houston Astros for the second-worst record in the American League.
The Red Sox haven’t had trouble putting men on base — the team’s .328 on-base percentage is fourth best in the AL. It’s moving runners along; it’s why the team is 10th in the American League with 269 runs scored.
The team’s lack of athleticism is a big reason for it, as the roster is static. There’s nobody who is a serious threat to steal or use speed to stretch plays out, mainly because there is no team speed. The lineup is too full of guys who aren’t great at putting the ball in play or making a big hit. The team’s .247 batting average and .376 slugging percentage is evidence of that.
It’s unfortunate. Another good outing by a Red Sox starter was wasted. While Jake Peavy wasn’t great, he allowed just one run over six innings and gave Boston a chance to win.
That’s been the theme of the 2014 season to date, and if it doesn’t change soon, the season will be lost.