The Red Sox squandered another chance to move into first place when they lost 2-1 Monday in San Diego, their second one-run loss to a last-place team in as many days.
Not something to be expected from a playoff-contender -- a statement that’s become synonymous with the 2016 team.
Monday’s frustrations were a little different than Sunday's, yet they still centered around the offense.
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For starters, the Red Sox were exposed once again as being a team that relies heavily on the bottom of the order. They are one of the few teams to have strong hitters at almost every spot but they lose some of that edge in National League parks, where there's no DH and the pitchers have to bat. So on Monday, when light-hitting catcher Bryan Holaday and pitcher Drew Pomeranz were in the Nos. 8 and 9 positions, the lineup had a distinctly different feel . . . not to mention most veteran pitchers aren't yet intimidated by rookie Yoan Moncada, who was hitting seventh.
In addition, the Sox once again couldn't deliver a big hit in key situations.
Trailing 2-0, Chris Young, pinch-hitting for Holaday, led off the top of the eighth with a home run. The next batter, pinch-hitter Aaron Hill, doubled, giving Boston the tying run in scoring position and the go-ahead run at the plate with no outs.
When Dustin Pedroia advanced Hill to third with an infield groundout, the Sox were poised to tie the game with almost any kind of contact. Not just a hit, but even a groundball or a fly ball.
But they didn't get it. Sandy Leon, pinch-hitting for Brock Holt, struck out. So did the next hitter, Xander Bogaerts. Hill was stranded at third and the Sox wound up losing by that 2-1 score.
As much as Red Sox hitters preach making solid contact every at-bat, that was a scenario where they simly needed to put the ball in play . . . and they didn't. One could argue Monday’s eighth inning was more frustrating than the bases-loaded struggles Boston’s had all year, given there wasn’t a double-play threat.
“On days where we’ve come up a run short, there’s opportunities throughout the course of a ballgame that can change the storyline,” Farrell said after the loss.
And he couldn’t be more right.
The Red Sox lead all of baseball with 499 extra-base hits, but are 7-39 when they score four runs or less.
Further proof that they’re a team that slugs it out, but doesn’t play small ball.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar