For one inning, the Boston Red Sox played Red Sox baseball. They worked counts. They got on base. They capitalized on mistakes. They took advantage of extra outs. They played aggressively.
That was how the Red Sox bats performed in the eighth inning of Saturday’s matinee, a 2-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics in ten innings. Brock Holt got things going with a one-out base hit. Dustin Pedroia followed him, getting on base when an errant throw by A’s second baseman Eric Sogard pulled first baseman Alberto Callaspo off the bag on what should’ve been a double play ball. Pedroia advanced to third on a David Ortiz fly ball that Coco Crisp — playing deep in center — couldn’t get to, giving the Sox yet another extra out.
With Mike Napoli at the plate with two outs and the runners on the corners, Boston got another extra out, this time from homeplate umpire Quinn Wolcott.
Napoli swung and missed at a 2-2 offering from Luke Gregerson. Wolcott thought Napoli got a piece of the pitch, being granted a foul ball despite not getting any of the 82 mph slider low and away. Stephen Vogt handled the ball in the webbing of his glove. The play was unreviewable; otherwise it would’ve almost certainly been overturned.
The Sox took advantage on the next pitch.
Going with the slider again, Gregerson’s offering skipped in the dirt and got away from Vogt. Pedroia was off and running from third, sliding into homeplate safely to tie the game at one.
It was the brand of baseball that became synonymous with the pair of hanging red socks over the years.
It was a breath of fresh air after what has been as bad a stretch for any Boston lineup in generations. The frustrating baseball had been back in full force to that point Saturday, the Sox putting seven men on base yet having nothing to show for it, grounding into two double plays and stranding five over the first seven frames.
The breath of fresh air, however, proved to be a mere tease, as Boston mustered up very little over the next two innings.
Being sat down 1-2-3 in the ninth by Sean Doolittle, the Red Sox came back in the tenth and got something going with back-to-back hits from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Holt. Neither advanced any further, however, as Pedroia and Ortiz were retired by Dan Otero to end the threat.
It was more of the same, the very thing that has the Red Sox 34-41 and on the jagged edge of the playoff race as late June approaches. The Sox have been unable to get anything going offensively. The lineup lacks any type of bats that can consistently clear the bases, hit for power and pick guys up. The group is devoid of any type of team speed.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The more this team seems to ‘turn the corner’ the more it continues on the same path to nowhere. Something needs to change, and it begins with the personnel. Because the more the personnel stays the same, the less things will change with this group.