There was a familiar scene inside the locker room at Wrigley Field Friday. Frustration oozed from both manager and players as a lack of offense led to yet another rough loss.
Only this wasn't the Cubs locker room. The Red Sox were left reeling following a 3-0 loss to the Cubs in the historic series opener and their frustration showed inside the visiting clubhouse after the game.
"We hit some balls good, man," Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "We just hit it right to 'em. It's frustrating. We're not trying to be bleep.
"Everybody's trying, man. We're just not playing good. Today, we didn't play good. We scored no runs. You can't win a game if you score zero runs."
Pedroia, who was Jason McLeod's first draft pick in Boston, came up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but grounded out sharply to third to end the game.
He didn't have any answers after his 0-for-4 showing at the plate.
"I feel great," Pedroia said. "I'm hitting the ball good, just no hits."
Bobby Valentine was working as an ESPN analyst last season and created a stir when he berated Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro for a lack of focus on a Sunday Night Baseball game. Valentine is now in his first year as the Red Sox manager and had his hands on his head in his office after the game, trying to find some way to come up with answers for reporters' questions after Ryan Dempster and two relievers held the Red Sox to just five hits.
"Dempster was pretty tough," Valentine said. "Guys weren't picking up his ball very well. When we hit the ball, it seemed to be right at one of their outfielders. Those balls have to drop a couple times a game in order to put some runs on the board.
"Of course you get frustrated when you get good at-bats and have nothing to show for them."
Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who twice hit hard line drives right at Cubs outfielders, just simply said "next question" when asked how frustrated he was.
There's an old saying in baseball that throughout the course of a long season, everything will even out for a hitter. If a player keeps hitting the ball hard but right at guys, he may get a few bloop base hits or seeing-eye singles to help bring the average back up to where it should be.
"If things even out, I'm gonna be in good shape," Youkilis said. "It's just frustrating. I felt like I had good at-bats and didn't have anything to show for it. It's discouraging."
The Cubs know that pain. They're toward the bottom of the league in runs, hits, on-base percentage and extra-base hits.
But the difference is the Cubs are mired in a 22-42 season with low expectations from the fanbase and media. Theo Epstein and his staff have been clear they are building toward the future.
The Red Sox, however, are expected to make the playoffs, especially after an epic collapse last year handed the Tampa Bay Rays the American League Wild Card on the last day of the season.
The margin of error is so small for the Red Sox that one play could have made a big difference in the game.
Dempster came up in the second inning and sent a looping line drive out toward the foul line in right field. Adrian Gonzalez, a natural first baseman playing out of position, dove for the ball, but it skidded by him. Gonzalez hustled it down, but then airmailed the cutoff man, Pedroia, and Dempster jogged safely into third with a stand-up triple. He later came around to score on a David DeJesus single for the third and final run of the game.
Valentine admitted he felt the Red Sox had a play at third if Gonzalez had only hit his cutoff man.
"He knows what he's doing out there," Valentine said. "He thought he was able to smother that ball and it just kinda kicked away from him."
Gonzalez was only playing right field to allow the Red Sox an opportunity to get David Ortiz's bat into the lineup with the loss of the designated hitter.
Epstein and Jed Hoyer orchestrated the deal last season that brought Gonzalez to Boston, with Anthony Rizzo heading back to San Diego as part of the compensation.
A year later, Epstein and Hoyer are fielding questions weekly about when Rizzo will make his debut in Chicago while Gonzalez is mired in a 3-for-22 slump with the Red Sox, who have dropped eight of 11 and have scored more than four runs just three times in that stretch.
The players in the visiting locker room had hoped Friday would be different.
"It didn't show up on the board with runs today," Youkilis said. "We swung the bats pretty good. It's just...man, we couldn't get anything to fall."