Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over
|04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET|
The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.
One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.
But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.
Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.
“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”
What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”
“We just didn’t get any breaks,” added Xander Bogaerts. “We’ve been hitting the ball hard the whole series. We came in from Baltimore hitting ball hard. Today again, a lot of hard hit balls just not finding holes yet.”
There’s something else these Sox are battling – injuries just five days into the season. Will Middlebrooks is on the DL with a strained right calf. Mike Carp is battling through a back issue. Shane Victorino has been dealing with the flu and a sore hamstring.
“We have a lot talent in here, still,” Ross said. “This is the major leagues. Every other team is going to be banged up or have guys go down and have guys step up. We did that last year. We have to have guys do that this year. It’s the nature of the beast. There’s not too many teams that go through the season without guys on the DL and missing key pieces. Guys are giving good at-bats. Guys are battling. We have a bunch of guys that like to play hard and that’s all you can ask of your teammates.”
The hard-hit balls are not finding holes while lesser hit balls against the Red Sox ace Jon Lester were finding grass on Sunday at the wrong time, like when Daniel Nava misplayed a single into an extra Milwaukee run in the second. Ross and Bogaerts were also culprits, both committing fielding gaffes, with Ross’ error leading directly to a third run in the seventh inning.
“I thought Jon threw the ball extremely well, extremely, extremely well,” Ross said of Lester, who allowed four runs – two earned – in 7 1/3 innings. “I guess the box score probably doesn’t say how well he pitched. They took advantage some [fielding] mistakes early on. He may have made maybe two or three mistakes the whole game, or just not even mistakes, just balls creeping over the middle a little bit and they took advantage. They seemed to scored on that and then we didn’t play great defense behind him. We were battling, trying to keep it at two. We had a rough inning and trying to keep it at two and me making that error, throwing that ball into center. Just bad baseball.
“We were trying not to make them but it was surprising. I know everybody out there is giving their best and that’s all I really care about. And we’ll iron those things out. We’re still trying to come together and learn what we’re all about and figure things out. But the guys are doing a great job. Nobody gave away at-bats. Everybody played hard, diving for balls. We’re playing hard and that stuff will come out in the wash in the end.”
Now the Rangers come calling for three at Fenway as the Red Sox look for their first win at Fenway since clinching the 2013 World Series in Game 6.
“Definitely look forward to a new series,” Ross said. “Sometimes teams just have your number right then. Those guys did a good job, kept the ball down. They seemed to pepper that down-and-away strike zone. We couldn’t get anything up [in strike zone] to drive. Guys hit some balls hard right at guys.
“We ready to see those guys go and get a Texas team in here that we’re familiar with, maybe.”
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