Late-arriving Red Sox come up short in a bid to sweep away Athletics
The call was made twice by home plate umpire Doug Eddings: out and out again. It happened first in the third inning as Victor Martinez headed home from first on a double to left by Kevin Youkilis. It happened again in the fourth, as Darnell McDonald tried to score from second on a single to right by Jeremy Hermida. Both ran past Tim Bogar, the third base coach waving them in, only to be cut down at the plate.
So it was with this in mind that manager Terry Francona approached the first-year third base coach in the dugout after the fourth with this message: “You’re a good coach. Sometimes you need to have a little amnesia.’’
That hadn’t yet kicked in after yesterday’s game, when the two outs loomed large in a 9-8 loss to the Athletics. Even with Oakland starter Brett Anderson out after just two innings because of an injury, even with 18 Boston hits, even with home field advantage in a sweep attempt, the Sox simply couldn’t get enough runners home. Not only were they 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position, they had those two runners erased at home.
“Two bad decisions and I got two runners thrown out at the plate,’’ Bogar said. “Obviously it’s all about the results, and obviously both times I was wrong. Take full responsibility for that.
“Anytime you get somebody thrown out in a situation they shouldn’t, it’s not easy to stomach. You feel like you let the team down a little bit. The guys battled all day. They gave us a lot of opportunities to come back and we just didn’t have enough to do it. So mistakes like that are just magnified. Hopefully they’ll be few and far between.’’
It’s a lesson learned by past Boston third base coaches, most notably Wendell Kim and Dale Sveum, neither of whom endeared themselves to fans across New England. And Bogar is still learning that after a few questionable decisions over his two-month tenure.
There was Youkilis being sent on a David Ortiz double in a tie game April 16 against the Rays. There was Jason Varitek being sent in the eighth inning of a tie game against Baltimore May 2. There was Marco Scutaro May 5. There was Dustin Pedroia May 15. Some of them have been the right decision. Some haven’t been. Yesterday, both outs were the first of their respective innings.
“I think that that is probably one of the toughest jobs in the big leagues, especially here,’’ Francona said. “I think that every decision is not going to work out correctly, or to our advantage. They converted both. If they don’t, nobody’s asking because we’re swinging the bats. We get guys thrown out at the plate, we have to answer questions. That’s just the way the game is.’’
While Bogar said the injuries had nothing to do with the players running into outs — Martinez has been dealing with a bad toe; McDonald banged his knee diving back into first base just before being sent — he did say, “Obviously, I should have learned from the first one.’’
“I’m always expecting to get sent home, unless he stops me,’’ Martinez said. “I was doing the best I can on the bases. [My toe] is a lot better. It’s not an excuse, like not scoring on that play. I was feeling way better on the bases.’’
Bogar acknowleged his style is aggressive, perhaps sometimes overagressive, but said he isn’t planning on changing.
“Every guy that steps up to the plate, you’ve got a decision to make sooner or later,’’ he said. “If you keep thinking about what you’re doing and what has happened in the past, you’re going to be over there with a lot of stress. Just do my job, keep making decisions, and learn from my mistakes and go on.’’
And the Sox almost came back. With the Sox leading, 2-1, the A’s scored four runs in the fourth off starter Tim Wakefield, whose knuckleball was up far too much to be effective. Kurt
From there, teams kept slugging, though the Sox never regained the lead. Boston, in fact, scored in every inning from the sixth on. But those five runs weren’t enough, despite Jeremy Hermida’s two-run homer in the sixth, and solo shots for Scutaro and Bill Hall in the eighth and ninth. Instead, they left 11 men on base. The hosts were ultimately done in by two solo homers allowed by Manny Delcarmen in the eighth.
“We kept coming and we were still coming,’’ Francona said. “Unfortunately [Oakland closer Andrew] Bailey had two full innings in him . . . his stuff is phenomenal. That kind of put an end to what we were doing, at least a little bit.’’
The bottom of the order was particularly effective, with Hall and Hermida recording hits in each of their first three at-bats. The duo went 7 for 10 with two home runs, two doubles, and three singles. They scored a combined five runs and each drove in a pair.
“The bottom of the order did great,’’ Hall said. “We swing the bats like that, it’s going to be way more positive than negative. We did a great job of swinging the bat, a lot of guys did. We just look to continue. It was a great homestand. We came up short today, but we feel very positive about the way we’re playing baseball right now.’’
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by Francona, as the Sox continue a stretch in which they need to pick up games against weaker opponents, including upcoming trips to Baltimore and Cleveland.
“We played with so much energy today,’’ Francona said. “We’re playing with personality now. Tough loss, but there are things that are happening that are really good. I don’t think there’s anybody in that dugout that didn’t think we were going to win until that last out. That’s the way we need to play. Make mistakes, overcome them, and see if you can win.’’