John Farrell defends his strategy to create offense: 'We've got to trust everyone in the lineup'

Mike Petraglia
May 20, 2014 - 8:19 pm
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If ever there were a game that was a microcosm of a season for a team then Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park served as just that for the 2014 Red Sox - the team that couldn't hit in the clutch. The Red Sox had their first two runners reach base in the eighth and ninth innings, with a chance to cut into a tenuous three-run Toronto lead. The Red Sox of 2013 would have capitalized on those chances. The Red Sox, so far in 2014, produced exactly zero runs and lost for the fifth straight time, falling to a season-low four below .500 at 20-24. Call it desperation or frustration, Red Sox manager John Farrell, trailing 7-4 in the eighth, decided to take the bat out of the hands of Brock Holt and asked him to bunt runners over to second and third. He succeeded in the mission but the Red Sox lost the battle when David Ross, who has struck out 20 times in 48 at-bats this season, fanned again for the second out. Jackie Bradley Jr. popped out to second base to kill that rally. Why did Farrell choose the bunt option instead of letting the hot Holt swing away and continue the rally? "Knowing that our top-of-the-lineup is coming up in the ninth inning, just trying to cut the deficit by one or possibly by two with a base hit," Farrell said. "We've got to trust everyone in the lineup. Despite Brock having good at-bats tonight, we felt that's what the situation called for. [I] didn't want to turn a three-run deficit over to Janssen. Any way we could to try to chip away and cut into some runs, they've been a premium to come by and we're looking for anything we can to scratch out a run." In the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia opens with a single to left. Shane Victorino grounds a single up the middle against closer Casey Janssen. The situation: David Ortiz up as the tying run. After fouling off one pitch and driving another 420 feet foul down the right field line, he struck out for the first out. Mike Napoli grounded into a game-ending 5-3 double play. Earlier in the game, the Red Sox had other opportunities. In the sixth, following a two-run homer to left by Jonny Gomes, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt singled for runners on first and second and none out. Sound familiar. Ross was called upon by Farrell to bunt the runners over. He popped out foul to Brett Lawrie at third. "How often? That's hard for me to remember," Ross said of bunting in that situation. "I'm not sure. I've been asked to bunt a lot. I've come from the National League and playing over there. I don't get surprised. I try to prepare to myself for whatever the third base coach asks me to do." Ross' night consisted of a ground out to short in the fifth following a Holt leadoff double, a pop-out to third on failed bunt attempt and a strike out in the eighth with runners on second and third and one out. "I'm trying to battle up there, I think we all are," Ross said. "I think we're trying to get that key hit and I don't know if I'm trying too hard or we're trying too hard. I don't know. That's a great question. That's a great question. I'm not getting hits with people on [base] or off." Bradley flew out to center and Dustin Pedroia stuck out swinging to end the sixth. "You have to trust the guy behind you in those situations and it starts with me and all the other hitters," Pedroia said. "We just have to trust each other. You just have to go out there and play. You can't point fingers at anybody. We've lost five in a row. We'll come out tomorrow and try to playing winning baseball. That's all we can do." Pedroia and the Red Sox are getting precious little power in their lineup and are relying on extending rallies, a risky bet to be sure for a team that was just 3-for-14 Tuesday with runners in scoring position. "That'll change," Pedroia assured. "It's a long season. We're in a little rut right now but we'll find a way to get out of it. That's what we do." What the Blue Jays did Tuesday night was power their way to a 24-22 record on the strength of two two-run homers from Edwin Encarnacion and solo shots from Erik Kratz and Melky Cabrera. "I thought our at-bats, overall, were better with men in scoring position. We swung the bat, overall I think, well tonight but our hits are base hits versus the home run by them, and that's the difference in tonight's game."

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