BOSTON -- The Red Sox' second-half drop off isn't solely due to the basics -- pitching and hitting -- though it sometimes seems as if that's the case.
The club's struggles with runners in scoring position -- and with the bases loaded, most obviously -- are obvious and have been on display on an almost nightly basis.
In Wednesday's loss, the Red Sox loaded the bases in three successive innings, each time with one or no out, and came away with just two runs to show for their efforts.
The dip in success with runners in scoring position is similarly easy to recognize. On the just completed 5-6 West Coast road trip, the Red Sox hit just over .200 for the trip and averaged fewer than four runs per night.
The bullpen's collapse has also been plain to see. Five times in the last 20 games, the Sox have lost games in which they've led in the seventh inning.
But less obvious perhaps, are the issues with other components.
In the first half, the Red Sox were both aggressive and highly successful in their basestealing attempts. In the 87 games in the first half, the Sox stole 59 bases in 69 attempts, for an 86 per cent success rate.
But since the All-Star break, the running game has stalled in a big way - the Sox have tried to steal just 12 times and have been successful in only six cases for a 50 percent clip.
"What we've always looked for were the opportunities,'' said Farrell. "The opportunities consist of unloading time, by both the guy on the mound and behind the plate. I think that's why the success rate has been as high as it was. The one thing we don't want to do is run into outs for the sake of just trying to push the envelope.
"There's a fine balance there between staying aggressive and giving outs way. The one thing to don't want to do is run with reckless abandon just because we haven't stolen a base in 'x' number of games.''
A well-timed stolen base could go a long way toward creating some additional offensive opportunities.
It would help, too, if the Red Sox tidied up their defensive play. On Thursday, a misplay by rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi resulted in two runs for the Yankees in a three-run eighth inning. And two weeks ago, Hanley Ramirez's throwing error in the ninth inning in Anaheim turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss.
"Since the All-Star break, we've not been as efficient. It's clear,'' said Farrell. "We've not made a couple of key places at crucial times in ballgames where it's come back to bite us. We're capable of being a good defensive team because of the athleticism of this group.
"But there's been some situations where it's not been executed -- whether it's the ninth inning on a ground ball or a fly ball in the seventh inning. You can't pinpoint one person or one style. But we're capable of more.’’