NEW YORK — A day after an aggressive ninth-inning baserunning move by Eduardo Nunez helped contribute to a 5-4 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox' aggressiveness on the bases remained a point of discussion around the club.
Nunez attempted to advance from second to third as the Sox pulled to within a run, but was cut down by a strong throw from outfielder Aaron Hicks. Mitch Moreland than flied out to center for the final out and the team’s eight-game winning streak was snapped.
The out by Nunez was the 64th on the bases made by the Red Sox this year, the most of any team in the big leagues (Houston is second with 49).
But the Sox point to the flip side of the baserunning equation: they’ve also taken 139 extra-bases (more than one base on a single, more than two on a double, etc.), second only to Houston’s 142.
“It’s a delicate balance,’’ said John Farrell. “We can’t create a mindset and an aggressiveness by being passive. Are there situations where a decision in the moment is critical? Yes. (Friday) night’s was one. A lot had to go well for that out to be recorded. It did. But in the third inning, that same mentality allowed us to go from first to third with the trail runner moved up 90 feet.
“In four other opportunities in the fifth inning the other night in Tampa, the same mindset allowed us to be in a position to win, or score additional runs. It’s highlighted because of the score and the inning (Friday) night; I recognize that. That’s part of the ongoing preparation for that situation – the throwing arm of Hicks, certainly that factors into it. We’re going to create some outs on the basepaths (in exchange) for the aggressive nature that we’re trying to instill.’’
Beyond the numbers, Farrell pointed out that there’s an intangible that can’t necessarily be quantified – the aggressive style often puts pressure on the defense to hurry throws.
“Does that force more errors?’’ asked Farrell rhetorically, “(Does it lead to) mishandling balls in the outfield? By forcing throws? That’s all part of the approach to being aggressive on the bases.’’