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August 17, 2013

Napoli, Sox offense must turn things around

BOSTON — Five of Boston’s past nine losses have been by one run, in part because the offense has struggled to provide the timely hit. The issue was evident Thursday in Toronto when Boston left 12 runners on base and squandered a first-and-third situation with no outs.

The Red Sox lost 10-3 to the New York Yankees here at Fenway Park last night. It was another game where the offense didn’t show up.

That’s nothing new. Boston has lost seven of its past 11 games and has averaged 2.4 runs during the seven losses.

Are the Red Sox showing their true colors and signs of a second-half collapse? Maybe.

Is time to worry? Sure.

At the heart of the offensive issue has been Mike Napoli’s inability to put the ball in play. He is leading the American League in strikeouts (158) and had a recent span of nine in 12 at-bats, although he hasn’t been punched out in the past two games. The most he had ever had in a single season before this year was 137 in 2010.

Napoli is on pace for 206! His poor at-bats are killing the Sox.

He has been moved down to seventh in the batting order and went 1 for 3 with a walk last night.

The right-handed hitting slugger must turn it around or else this offense will continue to sink and Boston’s AL East lead will sink more.

During his career, Napoli is at his best in the final month. He has a career 1.001 OPS in September/October compared to .744 career in August.

He’s not the only one to blame. Stephen Drew entered yesterday batting .194 against lefties.

Still, Napoli’s .156 average here in August and 18 strikeouts in 45 at-bats this month sticks out like the sorest of sore thumbs.

New Yankees first baseman Mark Reynolds led the AL in strikeouts four straight years from 2008-11, including a major league record 223 times in ‘09. He certainly is someone who can provide insight into what Napoli is dealing with.

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