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Frustration mounts for sliding Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  June 12, 2012 12:17 AM

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MIAMI — The Red Sox lost, 4-1, against the Marlins Monday night. They have lost four straight and seven of their past eight.

“There’s a lot of frustration. We know we’re better than that,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.

But are they? Since the season started April 5, the Sox have been over .500 for a total of eight days and in last place for all but one. Maybe this is what they are, a team in transition with a lot of injuries that will hover around .500.

They haven't been three games under .500 this late in a season since 1997. That was the last time the Sox had a losing record.

The Sox have not made the playoffs in the last two seasons and this is shaping up like the third. They have not won a playoff game since 2008.

There are only seven players remaining from the 2007 World Series team and two from the 2004 team. There is a different manager, a different coaching staff, and a different general manager.

Let's be honest, there isn't a lot to suggest that this team can play well enough for an extended period of time to become a legitimate contender. As soon as they got over .500 this season, they fell right back. The Orioles, Nationals, and Marlins shut down the Red Sox offense.

The hope has to be that the return of Cody Ross, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Andrew Bailey can change things. That's a lot of quality talent.

But none of them is a starting pitcher and that's where it has to start. Once Josh Becket gave up four runs in the first two innings, the game Monday was over.

Beckett pitched extremely well in his final five innings. But he didn't stick around to answer a few questions about it, once again leaving it to teammates to speak for him.

It's not a big deal. But it's the kind of thing that didn't happen much back when the Sox were one of the best teams in the game. But then, those teams usually has a lot of wins to talk about.

"We’re frustrated, everybody is. We want to win,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We’ve got guys that care. We expect to do something special. We’re going to continue to work and try and be a great team.”

As to other stuff:

• The game marked the return of Mark Melancon to the majors. The set-up man surrendered 11 runs over four innings in his first four appearances and was sent to the minors. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

“Important? I don’t know. It’s nice to be back,” said Melancon, who showed a willingness to pitch inside that was missing in April.

• In the latest twist of the Daniel Bard saga, the Sox had him pitch the sixth inning of a game Pawtucket was trailing, 7-1.

Bard gave up a run on a hit and a walk and struck out two. He threw 22 pitches, 11 strikes. Before the game Monday, Bobby Valentine said Bard wanted to pitch out of the bullpen to get an adrenalin rush.

"It took me two batters to get locked into an arm slot," Bard told reporters "I was a little bit lower than I would like to the first couple of hitters, and you saw some balls running away from me. I was able to make the adjustment and pitch pretty well to those last three guys. The nice thing is that I can focus on that and say, 'It wasn't perfect, but it doesn't matter.' I was locked in. I got something good to walk away with on those last three hitters."

• Ryan Kalish was 2 for 4 and is 12 of 24 since he got to Pawtucket. At what point does he become a better alternative to what is on the roster now?

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