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Red Sox baserunning woes persist as A.J. Pierzynski, Stephen Drew run into outs

07.02.14 at 12:17 am ET
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Stephen Drew and the Red Sox have been having their woes on the bases. (AP)

Stephen Drew and the Red Sox have been having their woes on the bases. (AP)

The Red Sox don’t have enough rallies to snuff them out through their own actions. After a 2-1 loss to the Cubs, the Sox rank 26th in the majors in average (.241), 13th in OBP (.319), 27th in slugging (.365), 23rd in OPS (.684) and 27th in the majors — and dead last in the AL — in runs per game (3.71). Those woeful numbers from the batter’s box make a couple of the team’s deficiencies — both of which were on display in Tuesday’s game — all the more glaring.

The Red Sox have taken a two-pronged approach to running into outs. While their rate of running into outs while taking an extra base has been roughly league average (the Sox have 28 such outs; the AL average entering Tuesday was 27), their masochistic tendencies have been particularly pronounced at second base. On Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski slammed a ball off the Wall in left and tried to advance to second. The carom was played cleanly by left fielder Chris Coghlan, who threw out Pierzynski by perhaps 30 feet at second, beating him by such a margin that Pierzynski did not bother to slider on the tag play. That marked the 13th time this year that a Sox runner has been thrown out at second (on a play other than a force or a caught stealing), tied for most in the American League.

“A.J. is trying to stretch a single into a double, probably a little over-aggressive on his part,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “Coghlan makes a good play off the wall and throws a strike into second base.”

“Trying to get in scoring position,” Pierzynski said brusquely. “That’s it.”

It marked the second time this year that Pierzynski has been thrown out at second — not even close to the team and American League leader in the category, Dustin Pedroia, who has been thrown out at second five times (most recently trying to stretch a single into a double on Saturday in New York). Pedroia is tied for fourth in the A.L. with six outs on the bases; Pierzynski has run into three outs, tied with Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. for second on the team.

This one proved particularly costly. Instead of having runners on the corners with no outs, Pierzynski’s out left a runner on third with one out, permitting Cubs starter Edwin Jackson to work free of the jam by striking out Xander Bogaerts and, after a walk, benefiting from a second Sox mistake on the bases that inning.

With two outs and runners on the corners, Stephen Drew took off from first base with Mookie Betts hitting — but he stopped after just a few steps. By the time he stopped, Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo had plenty of opening to gun down Drew at first for what was credited as a caught stealing that ended the inning.

“We tried to get a little early motion with Stephen to see what their coverage was and [Drew was] a little bit too aggressive,” said Farrell. “It ends up kind of in no man’€™s land.”

The caught stealing added to a woeful trend for the Sox, who have now been caught stealing 18 times this year even in the absence of a credible base stealing threat. The team’s resultant 62 percent success rate in stolen base attempts is the worst in the American League.

In short, the Sox cost themselves a potentially pivotal run with their baserunning on Tuesday, at a time when they have no margin for such mistakes. A team that has now scored one or no runs 18 times this year can ill afford to give away scoring opportunities, yet that is precisely what has transpired to date this year.

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Stephen Drew,
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