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For Red Sox, frustration but not panic after losing three straight

04.03.11 at 8:10 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia was blunt in his criticism of the Red Sox' season-opening performance. (AP)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Frustration? Yes. Panic? No.

That was the balance that the Red Sox were trying to strike after they suffered their first season-opening three-game sweep since 1996, a season in which they opened with five straight losses en route to a 6-19 start from which they never recovered.

The Sox saw the Rangers swipe their meal money and their dignity over the course of three games in which the Texas lineup slammed 11 homers and outscored the visitors by a 26-11 count. A candid self-assessment by the Sox suggested that it was, quite simply, an awful performance out of the gate.

“I think we’re all frustrated. We got outplayed. It’s not for lack of talent on our team. We got outpitched, we got out-hit, they played better defense than us,” said second baseman Pedroia. “They kicked our ass, that’s it. We better show up and play better on whatever day we play again. We have to play better than we’ve been playing.”

That said, while the Sox were disappointed in their performance, they have not changed their overall self-perception. Mindful that three games represent a handful of sand in a desert of a season, the team still exhibits confidence about its ambitions, namely, to compete for the postseason and then a World Series.

“What might turn this team around? To win games,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “Still got 159, and I’m fully confident that, come September, we’ll be either in first place or right in the middle of everything.”

Manager Terry Francona said that while the Sox will own up to the idea that they played poorly, they are not at the point where there is a sense of desperation after a few consecutive losses.

“We’re not very happy with the series. That’s an understatement,” he said. “I think there’s a difference between being aggravated at a series as opposed to sitting around and panic enters. It would have been a lot more fun going on the flight with a win and feeling good about yourself. We didn’t play a very good series.

“We got outplayed all the way around. They hit better than us, they pitched better than us. Now we have to go regroup and try to get us a win so we feel better about ourselves.”

Teams do not often start the season by losing three straight and then contending for a World Series. Indeed, it has happened just once in the last 30 years.

Even so, the one team to pull off the feat is in the running for the title of best team ever. To wit, the 1998 Yankees lost their first three games of the year, then went on to win 114 games in the regular season and 11 more in the postseason, their 125 victories that year ranking as the most ever by a club.

So, hope is not lost for the Sox. Even so, while the team is not panicking, it recognizes that there is a degree of urgency to its undertaking if it wants to leave behind a lost weekend in Texas.

“They did everything good. We didn’t,” Pedroia said. “They came out and put it on us. We’re going to have to play a lot better than that to accomplish what we think we can do.”

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