BOSTON — While David Ortiz was launching batting-practice balls into the right-field seats during Saturday’s workout, Hanley Ramirez walked about foul territory at Fenway Park, smiling at everyone he came across.

“Hey,” Ramirez said, walking by a couple of reporters, shaking their hands.

“See you Wednesday.”

Wednesday, of course, would be the day of Game 5 of the American League division series between Boston and Cleveland. To get to a Game 5, Boston needs to win Games 3 and 4.

To do that the Red Sox need to hit.

The focus of Friday’s 6-0 loss in Game 2 was the implosion of David Price, who didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, allowing five runs, including a three-run Lonnie Chisenhall home run. Price’s postseason struggles are now beyond coincidence and his positive postgame spin – “I know good things are coming” and “the pitch that Chisenhall hit out, that’s a good pitch” – cause some head-shaking (that pitch looked like it was right into Chisenhall’s wheelhouse).


But Price’s problems couldn’t completely hide the offensive malaise suddenly affecting the Red Sox.

The major league’s most potent offense has 13 hits and 24 strikeouts.

Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. – the three young All-Stars – are a combined 2 for 20 with 10 strikeouts.

“The past is the past,” said Bradley in his usual optimistic manner. “We just have to go out there and win a ballgame. Not overthinking, not doing too much.”

Has this team been trying to do too much?

“No,” Bradley answered quickly. “We just lost.”


Well, there’s a little more to it than that, which is why the team – players and coaching staff – got together for a meeting before their workout.

“We just sat down and talked,” pitcher Clay Buchholz said. “We’re a really good ballclub. We don’t have to do anything extra. We’re the Boston Red Sox. We know how good we are.

“Up until (the playoffs), we’ve been a really good baseball team.”

But unless they get back to being a good baseball team, the playoffs will end Sunday.

“We just have to be confident in ourselves,” Betts said. “It could have been nerves – I was nervous the first game and it was tough to settle in.

“Now two games in, we know what we need to do … I know what to expect. It’s the same game.”


Expect Betts to be better. He has shown all year – a season in which he is vying for the MVP award – that he can adjust and work his way out of struggles.

Bradley is streaky. He can go on a tear (.381 average in May) and then fall off (.218 in June). Since the All-Star break Bradley is batting .233 but still with 12 home runs.

Bogaerts is a mystery. Early in the season he looked like the MVP candidate, batting .362 in May and June. But he’s another in a post-All Star slump (.253 but with 11 home runs).

This relentless lineup has holes.

Yes, the Red Sox can get hot. They scored in double-digits in 20 games this season (winning all 20). But they also can be so-so. They’ve scored four runs or less 69 times – going 15-54 in those games.

There have been warning signs all year that the Red Sox are ill-prepared for the postseason. They lose close games (20-24 in one-run outcomes) and their hitting sometimes disappears.


The hope in these playoffs was that Price and Rick Porcello seemed to be primed to lead this team on a run.

They have faltered.

And the bats are not bailing Boston out.

So what can the Red Sox do? Try to get some mojo back. That is why there was a team meeting summing up memories of good times.

“Don’t forget who we are,” Farrell said, echoing the message. “Don’t forget who we are individually and who we are as a team … that gives us confidence.”

Maybe it will work. Maybe that’s why Ramirez was full of smiles and optimism, walking about – reminding me of Kevin Millar strutting about Fenway before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, with the Red Sox trailing the Yankees three games to none.


“Don’t let us win one,” Millar kept saying. The Red Sox won one, then two, three and four.

Now it’s Ramirez’s turn to be the cheerleader. A TV reporter asked for an interview. He smiled.

“Let’s do it in Cleveland before Wednesday’s game.”


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