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Red Sox 1, Rangers 2: Pablo Sandoval's absence sorely felt

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The Red Sox couldn't find the timely hit Wednesday night. And with all the opportunities Brock Holt failed to cash in on, it's hard to imagine Pablo Sandoval wouldn't have made the difference.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox did just about everything Wednesday night. Everything but score runs and win the game, that is, as one of the year's most frustrating performances ended with the Red Sox falling 2-1 to the Rangers.

There have been a lot of games this season where the offense more-or-less took the day off. Ones where their best opportunities came when a lucky leadoff single happened to make it to third with less than two outs. They're the sort of games we've seen from them far too often of late, and the ones that make you wonder if this team will ever get it together.

Wednesday was not one of those nights. Not really. Up against freshly-converted starter Phil Klein, the Red Sox hit the ball, and often enough they hit it hard. The first time through the order wasn't hugely productive in terms of baserunners--Mookie Betts hit a rocket to center that Leonys Martin just barely managed to track down, with a pair of singles from Mike Napoli and Blake Swihart being the only actual hits. It was, admittedly, a slow start.

But the pace picked up from there, with the Red Sox producing quite a few deep fly balls and hard drives. Xander Bogaerts even picked up his second home run of the season in the fifth to put the Red Sox on the board.

The problem was finding that one big hit to turn opportunities into runs, and that proved problematic. And often enough, it wasn't for a lack of effort at the plate. Bogaerts hit a line drive to center with the bases loaded in the sixth, but it was too close to Leonys Martin to really challenge the center fielder. The seventh saw Hanley Ramirez hit a ball so hard with two men on that it was already in Thomas Field's glove at second by the time he'd left the batter's box. And in the ninth, with Mookie Betts in scoring position, Dustin Pedroia just missed catching wall with a bullet to left that, of course, ended up in Delino DeShields' glove. It was a night where every batter seemed to be robbed of either a run or an RBI at least once.

The one exception to that: Brock Holt. He hit a weak fly ball with Mike Napoli on first base in the second, popped out with two on in the fourth, struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, and grounded out with one down and one on in the eighth. He came up to bat four times, didn't reach base once, and stranded seven baserunners--the most recent entry in an ice-cold May. Had Pablo Sandoval not taken that pitch to the knee, and come up to bat those four times in Holt's place, it's hard to imagine the Red Sox losing this game.

As has been the case surprisingly often of late, the failure to bring those runs across wasted a solid pitching performance, this time from Joe Kelly. He didn't get off to a good start, allowing a run in a shaky second inning and then a homer to lead off the third. And it did feel at times like he was keeping runs off the board in a way similar to the Rangers. But he legitimately settled into his outing later on, and finished the night with an impressive seven strikeouts to his name in one of his best outings in a Red Sox uniform.

It's just a shame that the bounces, the Rangers' leather, and Brock Holt combined to deny him the win.