'What we learned': Red Sox’ 7-2 loss to Rangers
BOSTON - Three things we learned in the Boston Red Sox' 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. . .
Craig Kimbrel can't pitch in non-save situations
John Farrell's reasoning in bringing in Kimbrel in the ninth with the Red Sox trailing 3-2 was sound: the Red Sox had the middle of their order due in the bottom of the inning and Farrell wanted to keep it a one-run game. Plus, Kimbrel hadn't been used since Friday and could use the work.
But a familiar pattern revealed itself: Kimbrel is a totally different pitcher in non-save situations than save situations. He's compiled a 1.45 ERA in save situations and 6.75 in non-save situations.
That sort of disparity is not unusual for top closers. Even the best ones tend to not have the same success when the game isn't on the line. Blame it on a lack of adrenaline, or hitters being a little more passive.
But Kimbrel's splits are dramatically worse. In non-save situations, his WHIP is approximately double his save-situations WHIP.
This isn't about stuff, since Kimbrel was still firing his fastball in the upper 90s Tuesday night.
It's more about focus and approach, and Kimbrel has to work on ways to be better in those spots if he's going to be valuable to the Red Sox.
The Red Sox offense is frequently hit-or-miss
Not literally, as in swinging and missing. But the same lineup that scored 22 runs in the previous two games and still leads the American League in virtually every significant category has had too many games this season where they can't seem to buy a big base hit when they needed it.
On Tuesday, it wasn't about scoring chances. The Sox had plenty of those, as evidenced by the 11 hits and five walks they collected. With 16 baserunners, a team should scored more than two runs.
But the Sox failed in the following scenarios:
* First-and-second, no outs, first inning.
* First-and-second, one out, second inning.
* Bases loaded, two out, fourth inning.
* Leadoff runner on first, fifth inning.
* Runner on first, one out, sixth inning.
* First-and-second, two out, seventh inning.
* First-and-second, no out, ninth inning.
In all, the Sox were 2-for-16 with RISP, stranding 14 baserunners. Worse, they left baserunners in scoring position in every inning but one.
Like a lot of Red Sox starters, David Price had issues in the first inning
Price gave up a run on the first pitch of the game when Shin-Shoo Choo homered. He gave up a single, then a walk, then another single and another run.
It wasn't until the fifth hitter he faced that Price recorded an out. That gave the Rangers a two-run head start.
After the first inning, Price pitched well, limiting the Rangers to a single run over the next innings.
But spotting the opposition a quick lead has proven disastrous for Red Sox starters and Price is as guilty as any of them.
His ERA in the first inning this season is 6.0.
Price didn't have any concrete explanations for his first-inning struggles, other than to say, about 10 times, that it came down to execution.
He went on to dismiss any suggestion that it might have something to do with his pre-game routine and warm-up program.
Perhaps new assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister has his first project.