Sox (0-6) unable to heat up
CLEVELAND — Did this season of great expectations for the Red Sox come to an end before the team even stepped onto the field at Fenway Park?
A disappointing opening week turned bizarre at foggy Progressive Field yesterday afternoon, where an eighth-inning squeeze bunt by the Cleveland Indians was enough to beat the staggered Sox, 1-0.
“It can’t get any worse than this,’’ Kevin Youkilis said after the Sox fell to 0-6, their worst start since 1945.
Or maybe it can. The Yankees provide the opposition for the home opener this afternoon before what could be an angry mob. By the time the weekend is over, the Sox could be in a hole from which there is no escape.
As it stands, there are mountains of history to move aside if the Sox are to meet even the most basic of their goals.
Since 1900, only two 0-6 teams — the 1974 Pirates and 1995 Reds — have made the play offs. Neither advanced to the World Series. Not one American League team that started 0-6 has finished the season in better than third place.
To win 95 games, the Red Sox would have to win 61 percent of their remaining games.
“Right now, we just need one win any way we can get it,’’ David Ortiz said. “Just one.’’
Jon Lester did his best to ease the pain of millions, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out nine in weather better suited for a Browns game in December.
But when Daniel Bard came out to start the bottom of the eighth inning, he walked No. 9 hitter Adam Everett on five pitches. A backup who started his first game of the year, Everett hit .185 last season.
“That’s kind of a recipe for disaster. You certainly want to make him earn it,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Bard, who has allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings this season, said he “couldn’t quite find it’’ when he came out of the bullpen.
Everett stole second and took third on a bunt by Orlando Cabrera. Asdrubal Cabrera, whose home run helped sink the Sox on Wednesday, waited for a 2-and-1 pitch before bunting down the third base line as Everett came to the plate. The Sox had no play other than to first.
Francona was not surprised by the squeeze. But he did not want Bard to pitch out.
“If we elect to pitch out and we don’t get the exact pitch, then we’ve got first and third and we’re in worse shape,’’ he said.
Bard was not anticipating a squeeze.
“No one told me anything,’’ he said.
Ortiz drew a walk with two outs in the ninth and was replaced by pinch runner Darnell McDonald. The next batter, J.D. Drew, hit a hard ground ball off the right leg of pitcher Chris Perez. The ball ricocheted to Everett at third base.
He had no play on Drew. But McDonald slipped rounding second and was thrown out retreating to the bag to end the game.
“I lost my footing and I tried to get back. I thought I might have gotten in there,’’ McDonald said. “I tried to make something happen and it didn’t work out.’’
There’s losing and then there’s losing in ways not previously seen.
“I don’t feel like evaluating the amount of hurt in a loss,’’ Francona said. “We’ve got to put ourselves in a better position where when somebody does slip, it doesn’t cost us a chance for a game. When you need something to go right, you’re probably not doing enough.’’
Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona matched Lester pitch for pitch. He also went seven innings and like Lester, threw 109 pitches. He allowed two singles, walked two, and struck out four.
Chad Durbin started the eighth inning for the Indians. Marco Scutaro singled with one out before Jacoby Ellsbury walked. Finally, a chance.
Lefthander Rafael Perez came in and snuffed out the rally, getting Carl Crawford to ground to third and Dustin Pedroia on a grounder back to the mound.
The $161 million Sox, the team that launched a thousand lofty predictions, are hitting .181 and have scored only 16 runs. They are 7 of 44 (.159) with runners in scoring position.
“We’re just not living right,’’ Lester said. “I don’t know what’s going on. We’re going to continue to show up every day and play hard, and we did that today. Everybody that played in that game today busted their ass on that field. It’s not like we’re not trying. We’ve got to keep grinding it out.’’
Pedroia wondered what kind of reception he would receive at home, never mind at Fenway.
“My wife’s going to look at me and say, ‘You’re 0-6. You guys stink.’ We all bring this home with us, man. We care,’’ he said. “We’ll figure it out. We’re going to win a lot more games than we’re going to lose, I’ll tell you that. We’re not going to be 0-162.’’
The 2011 Red Sox. They won’t rest until they win at least once.