The Red Sox couldn't get a clutch hit in Wednesday night's loss. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

May or may not: Red Sox offense continues to sputter

Ken Laird
May 20, 2015 - 7:51 pm

The last thing the Boston sports scene needed was more talk of something deflated. But in May, the Red Sox offense has done its'€™ best Deflategate impression. Wednesday night at Fenway Park the Sox dropped a 2-1 decision to the Rangers, their 11th game of 18 this month with their offense producing two runs or fewer. And again, the opportunities were there in the form of runners on base. The Red Sox stranded 12 runners in Wednesday'€™s loss, bringing the monthly total to 140 (an average of 7.8 per game). The team'€™s batting average with runners in scoring position is even uglier, as a 1-for-8 night brought the May total to just 18-of-123, a .146 team anti-clutch batting average. Entering the night'€™s action, the Sox'€™ team mark with runners in scoring position on the season was .205, 29th out of 30 teams in the majors. For manager John Farrell, he'€™s aware, but trying not to sound concerned. "€œYou'€™d like to see, and I think you will see an offense that is going to score more runs than we have over the last, I don'€™t know, eight or ten games,"€ Farrell said. "€œBut, I like where we are right now." "There were a number of times you saw a guy square a ball up and someone is either running one down in the gap or standing right there,"€ Farrell added. "Mookie [Betts] five hard hit balls tonight. Hanley [Ramirez] with a couple of line-outs to end a couple of threats. Bogey [Xander Bogaerts] with a two-out line drive to center field. We'€™re getting a number of good at-bats, the ball'€™s just not falling right now." The Wednesday key mis-opportunists were: Brock Holt, who fouled out with two aboard to end the fourth inning, as well as struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth, Bogaerts, who flied out to center to end the same sixth inning situation, Dustin Pedroia, who sent one to the wall in the ninth, but also to the glove of Rangers'€™ left fielder Delino DeShields and Ramirez, who went 0-for-5 and lined out to strand two runners in the seventh, as well ending the ballgame with Betts standing on second base. The Red Sox are now 0 for their last 19 with the bases loaded. Like Farrell, many of the players are speaking with an optimistic tone. "We hit the ball well," Betts said after two late hits did bring him out of a 3-for 28 funk going back to May 12. "€œIt'€™s going right at people. Stuff you can'€™t control right now. Later in the season hopefully those balls start to drop." "Tough luck," Bogaerts said. "Especially with runners on, in scoring position. I mean you've got Hanley two times that smoking balls right at people. Pedey [Pedroia], right there in the last inning. It's hard to win ball games like that. I mean the numbers probably say otherwise but the amount of balls we've been hitting hard kind of reminds me of last year in the beginning, when we weren't scoring runs. Same thing. Hopefully, it turns around quicker this year. Our pitching has been doing a pretty good job right now. It's just up to us [batters] right now." Catcher Blake Swihart looked to the track record of his teammates as cause for optimism of a turn-around. "€œIf you look at the guys around here, it has to,"€ Swihart said. "These guys have had long careers and have done it for a long time. They'€™ve proven themselves. I don'€™t think we'€™re worried about the offense. We hit the ball hard [tonight] just right at '€˜em. They'€™ll start falling. Hitting is contagious. Once it gets on that roll of everyone hitting, it'€™s very contagious." There are some positive signs. It appears Shane Victorino is on the rise. After returning from the disabled list on May 11, the Red Sox'€™ right fielder is 8-for-19 (.421) and on a modest five-game hitting streak. And Mike Napoli reached base three times to continue a two-day re-emergence. "We'€™ve got guys healthy," Farrell said. "We'€™ve got Vic [Shane Victorino] coming back to us. Nap [Mike Napoli] seems to be finding his stroke. I recognize where were are through forty games in terms of the overall record, but this is an offense that we still believe is very strong. We'€™re leaving twenty-four men on base in two nights, it'€™s capable of scoring a lot more runs and I'€™m confident we will."