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Club addresses importance of improving defense

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TORONTO -- The Red Sox know they need to tighten things up defensively, which was one of the strengths of their 2013 World Series championship team.

After an uncharacteristic five-error performance in Thursday's series-ending loss to the Yankees, Boston has committed 19 errors, which is tied with Texas for the third-most in the American League.

"Most importantly for us is taking care of the ball," said right fielder and 2013 Gold Glove Award winnerShane Victorino. "I don't know the last time I've ever been a part of a game where five errors were made. If you give teams extra outs, especially like the Yankees, they are going to capitalize.

"We have to play good defense. For me, that's a very important part of the game. We have to protect the ball. That was the one thing we did so well last year, we played great defense. That's to me, the one part of our game that we are struggling with."

The five errors Boston committed against New York was the club's most in a game since April 2001 and the second time in the last three games it has allowed five unearned runs. Victorino said the sloppy defensive play puts added pressure on the pitching staff.

"Not taking care of the ball and giving team extra outs is how you expand innings," he said. "Taking care of the ball is important for minimizing pitch counts."

Last season the Red Sox made the fifth-fewest errors in the AL and advanced defensive metrics painted them as an above-average team. Along with Victorino, second baseman Dustin Pedroia also took home a Gold Glove Award. Additionally, Boston featured strong defenders such as shortstop Stephen Drew and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom are no longer on the team.

This year, meanwhile, advanced metrics line up with traditional statistics and view the Red Sox as a weaker club defensively.

Before Friday's game against the Blue Jays, the Red Sox, who entered the contest sitting in last place in the AL East, held a team meeting and the club's defensive play was addressed.

"Those are the things that were touched on," manager John Farrell said. "No one is proud of the way things unfolded [Thursday] night. That was an ugly game."

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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