Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sox Lose 3 in a row, 5 Out of the Last 6

David Ortiz broke his bat trying to drive the ball into the outfield. Instead, it nestled softly into the webbing of Eric Chavez's glove. The splintered bat, meanwhile, sent Dustin Pedroia diving to the ground, making for an easy double play.
It was the story of Tuesday night's game for the Boston Red Sox in a nice, neat at-bat during the eighth inning.

Former Boston pitcher Lenny DiNardo and four relievers (the save going to another former Sox pitcher Alan Embree) held the Red Sox to three hits and Oakland took the second game of the four-game series, 2-0.

"[Pedroia] takes a step, the bat goes flying, he lost the ball and fell," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's the kind of night it was. This was about offensive frustration and not troubled pitching."

Boston couldn't get the ball out of the infield with any consistency. The Red Sox managed two hits and flew out twice against DiNardo. The other 16 outs were made in the infield. DiNardo did not strike anybody out.

The Red Sox loaded the bases twice against DiNardo (2-2) but came away empty-handed both times. Mike Lowell flew out to left in the first inning, and Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play in the sixth.

"That was one pitch at the right time," Jason Varitek said. "We were one swing away from breaking it open. He was able to get the [broken bat] ground ball out of 'Youk' at a big part of the game."

DiNardo presented his former team with several gift opportunities by walking six batters. The Red Sox returned the favor by grounding into five double plays.

"He has to be able to throw strikes," Varitek said of his former teammate. "He has plenty of movement on his ball to set things up. He was throwing strikes away early in the count and getting things done. He made us hit balls at the wrong time to the wrong people."

DiNardo earned his first win as a starter since last May 7, when he was with the Red Sox. The six walks were a career-high.

"I'd characterize it as somewhat effectively wild," Lowell said. "When he missed, he missed by a lot. But when he had to make a pitch, he was able to execute it. You have to credit someone who is able to bear down. He made pitches; he got double plays and got out of jams."

Ortiz's soft liner in the eighth was double play number five on the night.

The Red Sox also had two runners on with one out in the seventh but were unable to manufacture a run. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"Lenny, we've seen him a lot and know what he can do," Francona said. "We hit some balls hard and some not so hard. We couldn't push anyone across."

The Red Sox have now lost three in a row for the first time this year, and dropped their fifth in six games despite a quality start from Daisuke Matsuzaka.

"He gave up two runs in seven innings. That's definitely giving your team a chance to win," Lowell said. "I don't think he had his best stuff, but he was able to grind it out. You give up two runs, you expect to win."

Matsuzaka (7-4) allowed seven hits and struck out eight. He threw 129 pitches, the most by any pitcher in the Majors this season.

"He gave us a quality start and we didn't score any runs," Varitek said. "We hit the ball hard early but right at people. We couldn't get anything going."

Matsuzaka displayed much better command, walking three or fewer for the sixth straight game, and 10th in 12 games overall. Yet it was one of his two walks which came back to haunt him.

Matsuzaka walked No. 9 hitter Jason Kendall leading off the fifth. Two outs later, Nick Swisher cracked an RBI double.

"Swisher hit a good pitch there," Varitek said. "They got his pitch count up and we gave up the 0-2 home run." Eric Chavez hit a home run to lead off the fourth and give the A's the early edge. It was the seventh homer Matsuzaka allowed in his last six games after allowing two over his first six outings.

Pedroia saw his 14-game hitting streak end by going 0-for-1 with a walk, hit by pitch and sacrifice. Manny Ramirez also saw his seven-game hitting streak and Youkilis had his 11-game road hitting streak stopped. Just another indication of the "offensive frustration" to which Francona referred.

No comments: