NEW YORK -- In general, the Red Sox have played a better brand of baseball in recent weeks, spurred, perhaps, by the youthful energy of a number of players with plenty to prove.
But twice Sunday, they slipped and it helped cost them the final game of their series with the New York Mets.
In the seventh inning, reliever Heath Hembree came into a tie game with Mets infielder Daniel Murphy on first. Murphy had just one stolen base all season, and maybe for that reason, Hembree didn't pay him much attention.
Murphy, however, took advantage of the Red Sox' indifference and swiped second base without a throw. After Michael Cuddyer followed with a single to left, Murphy scored from second, which proved to be the winning run.
“I think that was probably one of the key plays in the game,” acknowledged Torey Lovullo. "It ended up being the go-ahead run. We just didn't control the running game there. We work very hard at it. It's part of our game that we take pride in. Unfortunately, we didn't do it at that time.”
Lovullo said the lack of attention was probably due to a combination of factors, but they “just didn’t execute.”
Hembree told the Providence Journal: "I wasn’t expecting it. (Murphy) just snuck up on us."
That wasn't the only failing.
In the ninth inning, with Rusney Castillo on second, Blake Swihart on first, and no outs, the Red Sox wanted Alejandro De Aza to bunt the runners over. That would have placed the tying run at third and the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.
But De Aza missed a couple of attempts to get a bunt down successfully and ended up striking out, changing the complexion of the inning.
"He works hard at it,” said Lovullo of De Aza's ability to bunt. "He's the type of guy that's understanding of his type of (role). He needs to execute those types of situations. I'm a little bit surprised. But if it comes up again, I wouldn't be afraid to ask him to do the same thing because he'll get the job done.”