BOSTON -- What should have been an occasion for Mookie Betts to celebrate the first five-hit game of his career was instead another night for the Red Sox to wonder why they are having such difficulty cashing in on scoring opportunities.
A 6-3 loss to the Royals in Friday night's opener of a six-game homestand was maddening in the sense that manager John Farrell's team pounded out 15 hits.
"Yeah, obviously, any time you do something like that, you want to win," said Betts. "It doesn't count unless you win, so you've got to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow."
With Betts going 5-for-5, Dustin Pedroia producing a 4-for-4 evening and Xander Bogaerts ending a recent slump with a 3-for-5 performance, it would stand to reason that there would have been some crooked numbers for the home team on the Fenway Park scoreboard.
Instead, there was a run in the first, another in the sixth and one more in the ninth, when the last missed opportunity ended along with the game.
"We continually do a great job of creating opportunities, and I'm confident that this will turn," said Farrell. "I can't say that we expanded the strike zone with men in scoring position or the bases loaded. [Royals starter Ian] Kennedy challenged us. We came up empty with a number of scoring opportunities."
With runners in scoring position, the Sox were 4-for-15. They left 12 on base. It has been a recurring theme of late for a team that has lost three in a row while scoring three runs or fewer in each of its last four games. Boston went through a similar rut a month ago.
The good news is that the Red Sox trail the American League East-leading Blue Jays by just one game and hold the top AL Wild Card spot.
"Timely hitting -- that's what it comes down to," said Bogaerts. "We had a lot of opportunities, which is one of the good parts. Hopefully, we get a lot more tomorrow and come through in those situations."
With the Red Sox down, 5-0, before even stepping to the plate, this looked like it could become one of those zany Fenway nights in which a deficit disappears with a swift barrage of hits.
Betts, Bogaerts and Pedroia did their part, but there was a big drop-off after that. How big?
The Nos. 1-4 hitters were 13-for-19, while the 5-9 hitters went 2-for-21.
Sandy Leon (0-for-5, 3 strikeouts), Jackie Bradley Jr. (0-for-4, 3 strikeouts) and Travis Shaw (0-for-3, 2 strikeouts), Nos. 6-8 in the lineup, came up empty, offsetting the heroics of the hot hitters up top.
Bradley has struggled mightily of late, hitting .167 in August with four homers, 10 RBIs and a .557 OPS.
"There have been some pitches up in the strike zone that he's not getting to," said Farrell. "There have been times he's really expanded below the strike zone on some offspeed pitches. He's working extra with [hitting coaches] Chili [Davis] and Vic [Rodriguez], trying to get it right. He's been kind of all or nothing now with what's been taking place at the plate."
"We're right around the corner from a big game," said Betts.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002.
Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.