BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-7 win over the Chicago White Sox:
* The RISP problem is ongoing.
The Red Sox were just 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position Thursday, continuing a problem from the past 10 days or so.
They finally came through in the 10th inning when Xander Bogaerts walk-off RBI single scored Mookie Betts from second and gave them the victory.
The Sox had the bases loaded and no out and got only one run out of it and couldn't push a run across in the bottom of the ninth when they had runners at first and second with no out.
It's likely temporary, as this lineup produced extremely well for the first two months. But the inability to deliver the big hit when they need it most is croaking the club for the time being.
* James Shields shut down the Red Sox for five innings. That would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago.
For the first two months, the Red Sox offense lit up everybody it faced, leading the majors in virtually every significant category - homers, runs scored, extra-base hits, doubles, total bases, OPS, and OBP.
But now, the offense has gone into rapid decline and isn't scaring anyone.
Case in point: Shields.
Coming into Thursday's outing, Shields had allowed 31 runs -- that's thirty-one, not a typo -- in 11 1/3 innings.
So what happened? Shield blanked the Sox over the first five before walking the first two hitters he faced in the sixth. Those two inherited runners came around to score, charging Shields with two earned runs in five-plus innings.
The same James Shields whom the Padres paid to go away, the same one that was battered by good and bad and in-between lineups, shut out the Sox for the first five innings.
* There are no solutions in the bullpen right now.
It was ugly Wednesday night with home run derby against Koji Uehara and Thursday wasn't much better.
Junichi Tazawa gave up a lead-changing three-run homer to Jose Abreu. Lefty Tommy Layne faced five batters and allowed three to reach and two to score.
Beyond closer Craig Kimbrel, who himself melted down in a tie game in the series opener, there simply aren't any trustworthy options for John Farrell late in games.
* The Red Sox have been fundamentally sound for much of the season, but not as much lately.
On Wednesday night, Sandy Leon got himself picked off third base with one out.
On Thursday afternoon, Betts got a bad dirt-ball read and couldn't scurry back to first before being thrown out by catcher Alex Avila.
Later, Jackie Bradley Jr. was guilty of a couple miscues. In the sixth, Melky Cabrera hit a ball to the triangle for what looked like a double. BUt when Cabrera sensed that Bradley, who double-clutched a bit, wasn't hurrying the ball back into the infield, he took for third, from where he scored on a sacrifice fly.
Finally, with one out and runners at the corners, Bradley tried to push a bunt to the right of the mound but got it up in the air and popped out as Brett Lawrie came in for a diving catch.