Closing Time: Short-handed Red Sox offense comes up short in loss to Yankees

April 13, 2014 - 7:17 pm
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When Carlos Beltran reached free agency after the 2013 season, the list of his suitors was numerous, and included a pair of familiar rivals in the Yankees and Red Sox. But the Red Sox felt compelled to limit the term of their offer, and weren't going to consider a three-year deal for the outfielder; when New York stepped in with a three-year, $45 million deal, Beltran was fitted for Pinstripes. It may be that, by the third year of his deal (if not sooner), Beltran offers little return on New York's investment. But in the more immediate term, he paid dividends for the Yankees against a team that also competed for his services. Beltran beat up Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer that jumpstarted New York's 3-2 victory. In the series, he was 6-for-15 with a pair of homers and two doubles, offering the Red Sox an unwanted reminder of the player whom they wanted to acquire, at a time when the Sox are struggling for offense. With Sunday's loss, the Sox have now scored two or fewer runs in five of their 13 games -- a contrast to the steady offensive showings of a year ago, when the Sox had just 38 games of two or fewer runs, the second fewest such contests in the big leagues. The offensive inconsistency is a reflection of the inconsistent personnel available to the Sox, at a time when Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino are all unavailable. Of course, it's also worth mentioning that the Yankees have likewise been decimated by injuries, with Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and closer David Robertson unavailable, suggesting the Sox' issues in the early-going run deeper than simply who is and is not available. The Sox leave New York with a 5-8 record, the worst mark in the AL East. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- The Red Sox are unlikely to offer testimonials for baseball's new replay system. On Saturday, replay failed to correct a blown call on the field when replay clearly showed that Yankees shortstop Dean Anna overslid the bag at second (he was ruled safe, a decision that was upheld by replay, but MLB subsequently acknowledged that the call had been blown). "There's a lot of questions that come up and really challenges the validity of the process that's being used," Farrell told reporters in New York prior to Sunday's game. On Sunday, with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth, Farrell against questioned the validity of the replay process in place after Francisco Cervelli grounded into what was originally ruled an inning-ending double play. The Yankees challenged the ruling, saying Cervelli was safe. Upon review, the original call was reversed and Cervelli was awarded first, with Brian McCann being credited with a run. Though the reversal appeared to be the right call, Farrell argued the overturn, resulting in an ejection (managers aren't permitted to argue replay rulings). -- New York's outfield defense tracked down a number of deep fly balls to the far reaches of the park, with Jacoby Ellsbury making a few catchers in center and right-center and Ichiro Suzuki (in the game in right field) ranging far to his right and then making a tremendous leaping catch, crashing into the fence on his descent, of a David Ortiz drive to right-center. Ortiz was a hard-luck 0-for-4 on a night when he scorched a couple of balls. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Mike Napoli remained a wrecking ball against the Yankees. He slammed a 1-0 solo homer to left-center in the sixth inning, the eighth homer Napoli has hit against New York since joining the Red Sox last season, as part of a 2-for-4 night that also included a double. Only Evan Longoria (9 homers) has gone deep against the Yankees more frequently in that span. Napoli is hitting .343/.425/.743 in 80 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox against New York. -- Though Felix Doubront had less-than-stellar control (58 of 101 pitches for strikes, 57 percent), the left-hander kept the game in check by pitching around runners on base. He submitted his first quality start of the year, permitting three runs in 6 2/3 innings, despite permitting baserunners in each of the seven frames in which he pitched. Doubront allowed seven hits -- a homer by Carlos Beltran and three doubles among them -- while walking three, but he held the Yankees 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. -- Grady Sizemore went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles, marking the second time this year that a Red Sox leadoff hitter has collected multiple hits in a game. Sizemore also nearly drove a ball out of the park in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury tracked it down on the warning track; Ellsbury also robbed Sizemore with a sliding catch in deep left-center for the final out of the game.

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