Many fans of the Boston Red Sox were expecting the team to play much like it did last season. After Boston’s slow start however, it seems that the team may have a bit of a championship hangover.
Last April, the Red Sox finished with a surprising 18-8 record. On April 25, the team is in fourth place in the AL East with a 12-14 record. There are many reasons why the Red Sox have gotten off to a poor start, but defense and pitching are at the top of the list.
In last Thursday night’s 14-5 loss against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox defense had five errors, three wild pitches and a passed ball. The Red Sox also allowed five unearned runs to score during the game as well. The box score does accurately describe how dreadful the defense played Thursday night.
So far this season, the Red Sox have committed 20 errors in 26 games. Injuries to 2013 Gold Glove Award Winner Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks have played a role in the poor defense, but that’s only part of the story.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts wasn’t expected to be Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel defensively, but no one anticipated him performing so inadequately. His three errors in 24 games don’t even begin to describe how much he has struggled in the infield. Even though Bogaerts is 6’3, he lacks the range of last year’s shortstop Stephen Drew.
Most people will tell you good pitching will always give you a chance to win games in the majors. If you take a look at the job the Red Sox pitchers have done this season, then you understand why they have a -15 run differential
Three of the Red Sox starting pitchers have an ERA north of five. Number three starter Felix Doubront, who’s 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA has been a huge disappointment. Clay Buchholz currently has a pathetic 6.66 ERA. If the Red Sox pitching struggles continue, the team may have to consider bring up Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster from Triple-A.
Maybe the team misses Ellsbury and Drew, but it is too early for fans to panic. With Middlebrooks and Victornio returning from the disabled list, the hitting and defense should start to show improvement.
This isn’t the NFL where in one month you can play yourself out of the playoff race. The Red Sox may not finish with 97 regular season wins like last season, but they are still a playoff contender. It is just going to depend on health, hitting, and defense and starting pitching.