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Farrell: 'This is a supportive group'

BOSTON -- The last time the Boston Red Sox faced Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez at Fenway Park, they didn't fare too well.

Although he walked six, Sanchez did not yield a hit and fanned 12 in six impressive frames, helping lift the Tigers to a win in Game 1 of the 2013 American League Championship Series.

The Sox have yet to be no-hit this season (although they’ve come close), but there have been some lines similar to Sanchez’s against a squad that entered Sunday night’s matchup with Detroit ranked 10th in the American League in scoring. Boston has produced a total of four runs during its current three-game losing streak.

There are encouraging signs, according to manager John Farrell, who cites the team’s .332 on-base percentage. That ranks third in the AL, although it is 17 percentage points below last year’s final number for the Sox. As has been discussed throughout the first 42 games, things go sour when the team tries to get those runners in.

“The disconnect is the runs scored,” Farrell said Sunday afternoon at Fenway. “You go from third in on-base to 10th or 11th in runs scored and that’s where I think opposing pitchers have managed our lineup a little bit to get to spots in it to shut off an inning, take advantage of possibly some inexperience.”

Part of the fix for Farrell involves getting more from his youngsters. Xander Bogaerts has had some solid contact of late but owns a .700 OPS and just one RBI in 15 games this month. Jackie Bradley Jr. enters Sunday batting .200, in danger of joining injured third baseman Will Middlebrooks among youthful regulars stuck below the Mendoza Line.

Bradley was given Saturday night off amid an 0-for-11 stretch. The hope is that the rest serves him well.

“I think the need comes up for almost every player, regardless of age, where a breather can be helpful,” Farrell said. “I think when you look at Xander or Jackie, in their particular case, the ability to sit and watch a game from the dugout can be beneficial and to talk to them prior to going into that on things to look for and that’s pitching patterns, the way opposing pitchers are trying to attack our guys, what they might take from it as they put themselves in that particular situation.

“Being a left-handed hitter in Jackie’s case, how are those pitchers attacking our left-handers? Just to see it differently and without the in-game emotion that might be attached to it.”

The on-base percentage is one indication of the team’s consistently patient approach -- the club sees more pitches per plate appearance (4.07) than all but the Minnesota Twins and leads the majors in reaching base on two-strike counts. So how long will the organization remain patient regarding the lack of successful outcomes?

“We have the players that are here and we’re going to continue to put together a game plan to work to win each and every night,” Farrell said. “We’ve seen a couple of different alignments or lineups that have included everyone that’s on this roster and we’ll continue to work toward that end.”

Farrell on Sunday will utilize the 36th different batting order this season, giving him a unique lineup 83.7 percent of the time. The 2013 edition posted a unique order in 78.4 percent of its games.

The manager feels that regardless of the order, he has enough veteran support for any struggling youngsters.

“This is a supportive group. It’s a group that we know cares for one another and I think both Xander and Jackie have been clearly accepted by them,” Farrell said. “There’s been a lot of advice and recommendations given to both guys as they’re dealing with things for the first time or maybe some of the challenges that they’re facing have shown themselves repeatedly. Guys are there to help try to get them through it.”

The upcoming schedule will not offer much help for Bogaerts, Bradley or the team as a whole. After the Sox finish a five-game homestand June 1, they play 19 of 27 games on the road. Boston is hitting .233 on the road -- 12th in the AL -- while sporting a measly .694 OPS away from Fenway.