White Sox 5, Red Sox 4

Pointing out that Ozzie Guillen went with Bobby Jenks (above) in the 8th last night “because he knows the Red Sox are hopeless if they do not score in bulk”, the Herald’s Tony Massarotti examines Boston’s impotence at the plate.

We know these Red Sox are going to make mistakes on the pitcher’s mound. We know they cannot play defense. Unlike last postseason, when the Sox could beat teams in a variety of fashions, the 2005 Sox have to slug to win, and that simply did not happen in the two games at U.S. Cellular Field.

In the place known as the Cell Block, the mighty Red Sox offense has been shut down and shackled.

“I think we did all right,” center fielder Johnny Damon said of the Red Sox’ offensive approach in Game 2.

But for this team, all right is not good enough.

Of course, the White Sox have a pitching staff that ranked among the best in baseball this season, so let’s be clear on what has been the key to the first two games. The White Sox have controlled the point of attack. Chicago pitchers are pounding the strike zone “ an astonishing 68 percent of the White Sox’ pitches have been strikes “ and the mighty Red Sox are on their heels as a result.

Following Graffanino’s error, lost in the rubble was this: In the final six innings, Red Sox hitters saw just 70 pitches. Over the last three years, while leading the major leagues in runs scored, the Red Sox have made a habit of running up opposing pitch totals and getting into enemy bullpens. Now their opponent is doing precisely the opposite to them “ keeping pitch counts down and minimizing at-bats “ which gives the Red Sox virtually no chance given the obvious shortcomings of their club.

In the ninth inning, with two outs and the tying run at second base, Edgar Renteria grounded out on the first pitch from right-hander Bobby Jenks, who never will be confused with William Tell when it comes to marksmanship. It marked the Red Sox’ fifth first-pitch out of the game, which is suicide for team that prides itself on grinding out at-bats.

As a result, David Ortiz died in the on-deck circle to end the game. Manny Ramirez was right behind him.

Does that mean the Red Sox lost this game because of their offense? Hardly. But through the first two games of the ALDS, they have no home runs (the White Sox have six) and have drawn just two walks, posting an on-base percentage of .270. That is the kind of number that will make Bill James cough up his cereal this morning, no matter how destructive the Red Sox pitching and defense has been.