ARLINGTON, Texas -- In the launching pad known as Rangers Ballpark, the Red Sox have been limited to just one run in 18 innings.
A time to panic? No. The Red Sox remain the only team in the majors with 20 wins. But a combined 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series is a red flag.
Boston lost to Texas 5-1 on Saturday night in the second game of a series matching two division leaders.
“We were a little flat last night, but we hit a number of balls hard tonight that didn’t fall in,’’ Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Their outfielders made some nice plays, but we had our chances. We had second and third in the seventh in a 3-1 game and [Rangers reliever Tanner] Scheppers got the ground-ball out.’’
Scheppers was brought in to face Dustin Pedroia in the seventh. Going the other way, Pedroia sent a ground ball Mitch Moreland’s way. The Rangers’ first baseman flipped to Scheppers covering to nip a hustling Pedroia by a half-step to end the threat.
Pedroia is 0-for-8 in the series.
Typical of the Red Sox's luck, Jacoby Ellsbury lined wickedly to Moreland for a double play in the fifth when a few feet either way would have meant first and third with nobody out.
Lackey positive: John Lackey continues on the road to a bounce-back season, despite being saddled with the loss.
“I definitely don’t like to lose, but I saw some good things,’’ Lackey said. “I got my pitch count up [to 98] and I felt good. I’m getting better. I’m not all the way there.’’
Lackey (1-2) allowed six hits and three runs, all earned, in five innings. He struck out four and walked three.
“He gave us everything he had,’’ Farrell said. “They had the one extended inning on him in the fourth, but he kept us in the game for five innings.’’
Texas scored two runs in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. “I pitched around a guy and got a ground ball with two outs, but it didn’t work out for us,’’ Lackey said.
Neither Farrell nor Lackey was faulting third baseman Will Middlebrooks for the way he played Craig Gentry’s two-hopper in the fourth.
Middlebrooks said considering Gentry’s speed he knew he needed to charge the ball, but the in-between hop forced his hand. So he waited back.
“I had to get rid of it as quick as I could and I made a bad throw,’’ Middlebrooks said.
Gentry was credited with a hit and an RBI. The second run scored when the wide throw scooted away from Mike Napoli at first.
“That was a tough play,’’ Lackey said. “The guy is fast. It’s a good place to hit the ball.’’
Said Farrell, “You can’t come and get it, a two-hopper like that.’’
Bailey on bubble: Reliever Andrew Bailey will be checked out again before his status is known for Sunday’s 3:05 start in the series finale. Bailey (biceps) last pitched on April 28.
“The thought was to give it another day to be sure,’’ Bailey said. “It’s frustrating at this point.’’
Bailey said he plans to play long toss on flat ground with a little more aggressiveness.
Before Friday’s game, Farrell said he would use Bailey only in an emergency. On Saturday, Farrell expected to have his closer, provided he could pass one last test after the pregame stretch. He didn’t.
“We’ll give him another day,’’ Farrell said. “At some point, we’ll have to get a look at him.’’
Ouch: Napoli glared out at the mound after being hit by pitch from former teammate Scheppers in the eighth inning.
Afterward, the former Ranger said it was no big deal. “I didn’t think twice about it,’’ he said.