The Start of the Second Half Was All Right

After the All Star break, the Red Sox returned to Fenway, well rested, and ready to go. With the Dodgers and Blue Jays in town for the second half of the season, you’d think that it’d have motivated this team to win both series. However, that wasn’t the case against the hot blue Dodgers. When it came to facing Toronto though, the team woke up.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions in July. The big question is, what will Davesecond half Dombrowski do before the trade deadline? Before the beginning of the season, MLB implemented new guidelines, including only having one trade deadline. The only major move so far was trading for Baltimore Orioles starter, Andrew Cashner.

Before we get into what’s going through Dombrowski and Company’s mind, let’s take a look at the last homestand.

The Highly Anticipated World Series Rematch at Fenway

When MLB released the schedule last season, I doubt that they knew what they were thinking by scheduling the rematch between the Red Sox and Dodgers. Neither team changed too much, which made for a unique series.

Eduardo Rodriguez had the ball in the first game, and absolutely dominated. His record improved to 10-4 on the season after going seven innings, allowing 5 hits and one earned run. E-Rod also struck out ten while allowing two walks. The offense was on fire as well. Rafael Devers, Christian Vasquez and Xander Bogaerts all hit home runs, which propelled the offense to score eight runs.

Game two, however, was a thing of destruction. The man who closed out the World Series, Chris Sale, only lasted 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. Despite striking out seven batters, the offense was asleep for the better part of the game. For the Dodgers, the Fenway Faithful got a glimpse of Joe Kelly pitching on the mound in Dodger blue. Kelly pitched one inning of relief, allowing two hits, and one run. The Dodgers took this game, 11-2.

The final game of the series went into extras, and saw the bullpen blow up. In what should have been a Sunday night win for Boston turned into a loss at the hands of David Freese and company. While David Price pitched five solid innings, only allowing one run, the bullpen couldn’t keep it together, even when Boston tied it up in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to back-to-back home runs by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. What really stung was when Joe Kelly closed out the bottom of the twelfth inning for the Dodgers.

The Blue Jays Invade Fenway in the Second Half of the Season

After a rough start, Blue Jay Nation came to town, as did Andrew Cashner, the newest member of the Boston rotation. Rick Porcello pitched against the fourth place Blue Jays in game one. Porcello threw six solid innings, only allowing four runs on eight hits. The Red Sox offense went to work early, tagging Blue Jays starter Trent Thornton for five runs in the first inning. Despite the fact that the bullpen allowed six runs in three innings, Porcello got the victory, putting his record at 7-7 on the season.

Andrew Cashner, the newest member of the Red Sox, took the ball in game two. Cashner was pitching in his first game in nine days, and it showed. He went five innings in his Red Sox debut, allowing six runs on eight hits. Despite a first inning home run by Bogaerts, the Red Sox offense was quiet. Jays rookie starter, Jacob Waguespack pitched 4.2 innings, and only allowed the one run in the first inning.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the saving grace of the rotation, took the ball in game three. In 6.1 innings, Rodriguez allowed only two runs off of three hits, while striking out four. Rafael Devers was a contributor in the win by launching his eighteenth home run of the season off of Aaron Sanchez in the third inning. Brandon Workman, who seems to be the savior in the bullpen, earned his fifth save of the season.

In a Thursday afternoon game, Chris Sale had the ball. It should be noted that the real Chris Sale is back. In six innings, Sale only allowed two hits and struck out twelve. The offense tagged Thomas Pannone for four of the five total runs. Both Rafael Devers and Mookie Betts contributed to the runs by launching home runs. Everything seemed to be clicking for Sale in this game, allowing him to get his fourth win of the season, and first at Fenway this season.

First Roadtrip of the Second Half

After going 4-3 in the homestand, the Red Sox head to Baltimore for a three game series, then off to Tropicana Field to take on the second place Tampa Bay Rays. From there, they return home to face the New York Yankees for the first time since the battle in London.

Knowing that we are about a week and a half until the trade deadline, and seeing where we are in the standings, must worry the front office a little bit. With the bullpen seesawing, and the offense slowly picking up speed, a new face in the clubhouse would be a welcoming sign.

Red Sox trade targets to look out for

A seemingly taxed bullpen and what’s been a thin starting rotation for a while now are problems forcing the Red Sox into considering outside options for their pitching staff. With Alex Cora confirming that Nathan Eovaldi will assume the closer role upon returning from the Injured List, a spot will remain open in the rotation. Red Sox trade targets have generally been bullpen arms the last few years, but that tune might be changing in 2019.

With a largely competitive field of teams still vying for wild card contention, the market is aRed Sox trade targets bit thinner than it has been in recent seasons. That being said, there are indeed arms that are reportedly being shopped, as sellers like the Mets, Blue Jays, and others will be looking to unload and rebuild.

If the plan for the Sox is to add a man in the rotation, there are some options on the market that might come a bit cheaper than relievers with multiple years before free agency. Let’s take a look at who some of these Red Sox trade targets might be.

RHP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Red Sox were spotted scouting a recent start of Wheeler’s (and Matthew Boyd’s). With the Mets coming undone in another lost season, a move would make sense. While the ERA is an unimpressive 4.69, Wheeler has been able to eat up innings in New York. He has managed to work 6.0+ IP in 15 of his 19 starts, including 7.0+ IP in 9 of those starts. He has worked fewer than five innings just a pair of times, going 4.2 in each. For a Red Sox team starved for an innings eater, a low-cost soon-to-be free agent represents an excellent fit.

LHP Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

Boyd has put together a career year, posting a very solid 3.87 ERA through 18 starts. He’s been the best pitcher on a poor Tigers team, but has done well in a division that features a number of solid teams like the juggernaut Twins, competitive Indians, and rising White Sox. There are two concerns, however: for one thing, he is still a few years away from free agency. With how much clubs value team control these days, Boyd will come at a high price. Not just that, but after being one of the AL’s best through mid-June, Boyd has regressed a bit. The southpaw has allowed 4 or 5 ER in each of his last 4 starts, after allowing more than 4 ER just twice through his first 14. Boyd would make another quality addition, but the fit might not be as strong.

RHP Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

Red Sox fans might not jump all over this idea. But Stroman is having an excellent season, has always proven a tough out, and brings a swagger to the mound, which makes him a Red Sox trade target. A swagger that might energize the group. Stroman is one of the league’s best at producing high ground ball rates. In two starts against Boston this season, Stroman has allowed just 1 ER over 11 IP. His 3.18 ERA would automatically be the lowest among fellow Sox starting pitchers. What makes this deal difficult is that Toronto won’t trade a key player to a divisional rival for nothing. Like with Boyd, the Red Sox might be priced out of their comfort zone.

Final Fenway Homestand Before The London Series

After going 5-1 on the road trip, the Red Sox head to Fenway to play in the final homestead before the London series against the Yankees. Going into the road trip, the Red Sox won two straight games. In Baltimore, they swept the Orioles, and did some damage at the plate. After Baltimore, they went to the Twin City to take on the first place Minnesota Twins. Although it was a tough series, Boston did pretty well, taking two of three. Slowly, but surely, the Red Sox are going in the right direction.

Now, we head home to Fenway Park to take on the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicagolondon series White Sox. After two off days, the Red Sox will host the Yankees at London Stadium in the UK for the MLB London Series.

Red Sox Take on the Blue Jays and their Rookies

Yes, that’s plural. The Blue Jays have called up some big names over the past few months. The last time we saw the Jays in Toronto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was in the big leagues. Now, Cavan Biggio – son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio – is on the scene.

Starting Friday, three rookies – Biggio, Guerrero Jr. and Michael Chavis will be playing at Fenway Park. All three are also battling for the Rookie of the Year Award. It will be interesting to see them play at Fenway this weekend, as this is the first time the Jays rookies will be at Fenway.

Right now, the Jays are in fourth place behind the Red Sox. Their last series against the LA Angels didn’t go as planned – loosing 3 of the 4 games at home in Toronto. The last game had some star power, as Toronto Raptors Kawhi Leonard was in the building after winning the NBA Finals and the Finals MVP Award. After the Red Sox series, the Jays head to New York to face the Yankees.

The White Sox Invasion

After doing some damage in Chicago, the Red Sox face the White Sox in a rematch at Fenway Park. After splitting a two-game series against the Cubs, the White Sox head to Texas to face the Rangers before coming to Boston. They are currently in third place in the AL Central, and are 35-37.

One bright spot for the White Sox is pitcher Lucas Giolito. The 24 year old starter is currently 10-2 with a 2.74 ERA. His first loss came back on April 6th, and his last one was against the Cubs this past week. If things line up, then the Red Sox might be the next team he faces. The Red Sox did face him back on May 2nd in Chicago, getting seven hits and five runs off of him. However, Giolito received the no-decision in the game.

Hoping For a Great Homestand Before the London Series

Following the Blue Jays and White Sox, Boston heads across the pond. There, they play two games against the Yankees at London Stadium. The series should be interesting, especially since both teams haven’t played at London Stadium before.

The Red Sox have their work cut out for them before heading to London. They’re currently seven games behind the first place Yankees. The Yankees will also be at home this weekend and leading up to London. Their first opponent is the first place Houston Astros.

Can The Red Sox Dig Themselves Out of the Hole?

The Red Sox are currently in third place behind the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. It seems as though the shovel that the Red Sox are using to dig the hole that they’re in is never ending at this point. So can the Red Sox dig themselves out?

After going 3-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox went to Houston looking tored sox dig continue their success. However, that wasn’t the case. Something went wrong during that three game set in Houston. The question is, does this team have what it takes to overcome its struggles? As the Red Sox dig themselves into a hole with no end in sight, can they come back from this setback and head into June on a high note?

So far, the Red Sox have gone 2-6 against the Yankees and Astros, teams the Red Sox defeated in the 2018 postseason. As we head into the last week of May, the Red Sox sit in third place in the AL East. At the rate they’re going, it seems as though the postseason is out of reach.

The Canadian Adventure

The battle of the rookies took center stage at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Both Michael Chavis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were great with the bat, and glove in this series. For the most part, the Red Sox offense came alive. It also helped that the bullpen was on point for most of the series in Toronto.

This series also saw a struggling Jackie Bradley Jr. come to life. In the first two games of the series, he hit home runs, raising his batting average a bit. Bradley Jr. still has a lot of work to do to stay hot, but hopefully this is a good sign. Another player to take notice of is Ryan Weber. The 28 year old righty pitched his first start of the season, going six innings against Toronto. Weber got the win in the game, striking out four while allowing one earned run in the 8-2 finale.

Back To The Scene of the ALCS

Think back to October 2018. The Red Sox are playing the defending champions in the ALCS. Remember the catch? The home run? The sweet feeling of going to the World Series yet again? It’s a great feeling, right? I just have one question – What happened? After Houston left Fenway taking two of the three games, they did it yet again. Houston took two of the three again. This time, on their home field.

From the errors, to the pitching, who knows what is going on. Some bright spots was the offense, however, it didn’t pan out for the Red Sox this weekend.

The first game was ugly from the beginning. It ended in a 4-3 loss, with the Red Sox committing three errors behind Chris Sale’s start. Despite home runs from Xander Bogaerts, Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez, there was no escape for Boston.

Game 2 seemed to be a bit better. The Astros struck first, and had a 3-1 lead until Vazquez hit a two run single to tie it. However, Carlos Correa and the Astros had other plans, as Correa hit the game winning single in the bottom of the ninth.

Looking to salvage the final game before they head home to Fenway, Eduardo Rodriguez looked to continue his success on the mound. He did just that, going 6 innings, allowing one earned run and striking out five. The bullpen did a great job securing the win, with Marcus Walden getting his first save of the season. A home run by Rafael Devers, and good at-bats by Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Benintendi, allowed the Red Sox to leave Houston with a 4-1 win.

How Deep is This Hole, and Can the Red Sox Dig Themselves Out of it?

As they head back to Fenway, we can only wonder what is going through the players’ minds. Right now, the Red Sox sit in third place in the division. As for the Wild Card, they’re holding their heads above water right now. The question is, can they keep climbing? Can the Red Sox dig themselves out of this hole?

The Red Sox play 162 games, and right now they’re two months into this season. There are so many questions that need to be answered. The big question is, can they survive with what they have? In my opinion, we need pitching help, particularly in the bullpen. Hopefully, something good comes out of this mini homestead against the Cleveland Indians.

David Price’s return helps lead Sox in rout of Blue Jays

Don’t look now, but if the Red Sox continue to roll over teams like they did in a 12-2 victory over Toronto yesterday, the league better be on alert. After David Price’s return to form, and an offensive onslaught led by red-hot hitters Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, the Sox have clearly put that series loss against Houston behind them.

Price looks like his old self in his first start back from the IL

David Price’s return will bolster the rotation, which was thinning with Nathan Eovaldi David Price's returnweeks away from returning. In his first trip to the mound since May 2, the southpaw was strong. Price went five innings (67 pitches) and held Toronto to just two runs and three hits, striking out four. For Price, his latest effort just adds on to his pure dominance over Toronto in his career. This afternoon’s victory propelled him to a 13-1 record all-time at the Rogers Centre. That balloons to a 22-3 career record in games pitched against the Blue Jays, good for a 2.37 ERA.

You don’t mess with David if the Jays are in the opposing dugout.

Bogaerts and Devers go back-to-back, Chavis stays hot

Carrying the offensive load for Boston were Bogaerts and Devers, led by back-to-back bombs in the 9th inning. On the day, the young sluggers each drove in a trifecta of runs, with rookie Michael Chavis adding another moonshot and a pair of runs driven in. Chavis finished the afternoon with a mammoth .981 OPS through 26 career games. That would be the highest mark on the team (for position players) if it qualified. Adding to the barrage was Jackie Bradley Jr., who drilled a line drive over the left field fence for his first home run of the season. His homerless drought had led all the way back to the ALCS against Houston. That homer came in Game 4 off of Josh James to tie the game in the sixth inning, leading to an eventual Red Sox victory.

Today’s lashing continues a powerful stretch for the Sox. Over their last 18 games (since 4/29) they have smacked 34 homers and have averaged 6.84 runs per game. In that span, they lead the majors in OPS.

The bullpen combines with David Price’s return to completely shut down the Jays

After Price allowed a two-run home run to Luke Maile in the second, the Red Sox arms shut it down. That home run was the final hit surrendered by Boston pitching for the remainder of the game. After that home run, 22 of the 23 remaining batters were retired. Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Hector Velazquez combined to throw four scoreless innings, striking out six and walking just one. The bullpen continues to be a strong point, posting a sub-two ERA over its last 22 games, the second-best mark in MLB.

As the Red Sox continue to rebound from that ugly start, all sides of the ball appear to be clicking. If the Rays and Yankees continue to battle the injuries they have suffered with, it would not be out of the question for the Red Sox to be as good a challenger as anyone for the division title.

The American League East Remains a Powerhouse

Once upon a time, the American League East was baseball’s most powerful division. In the early part of this century, watching the Red Sox and Yankees battle for supremacy was exhilarating. The rivalry had never been stronger. It was Derek Jeter against Nomar Garciaparra. It was Alex Rodriguez against David Ortiz. It was Theo Epstein against the American League EastEvil Empire. Every game was crucial.

That intensity was ultimately cooled, as the Red Sox won multiple championships and old Yankee Stadium was demolished. Some of the history and passion was lost, as the other teams caught up. Tampa Bay won the division in 2008 and 2010. Baltimore rode a renaissance to the crown in 2014. Toronto even won the American League East last year, as the old duopoly was dismantled.

A New Era in the American League East

This year, in a new world order, four teams have a legitimate shot at winning the division as mid-September approaches. And while the division has changed irreparably from the halcyon days, few divisions in Major League Baseball can match the American League East for quality. It’s still by far the most difficult division to win.

 

Right now, the American League East has a combined winning percentage of .523. That’s the best in all of baseball. The National League Central is second at .505. Meanwhile, the National League East currently has a joint winning percentage of just .487 among its five teams. While romping to a playoff berth is always preferable, this may suggest a competitive advantage to whichever team eventually emerges from the American League East. That team will be more battle-tested than any other, having beaten three other teams to the crown.

The Fight for a Title

The Red Sox and Blue Jays currently sit atop the division at 77-61. Baltimore lurks just one game behind. But this is actually becoming a four-team race, because the Yankees continue to surge despite trading away three of their best players in July. The Bombers are in fourth place with a 72-65 record, just four-and-a-half games behind the leaders. That may seem like a lot at this stage, but the Yankees are closer to first place than all but one second-place team throughout baseball. Whether people like it or not, New York is in this thing, too. And that makes for a compelling finish to a bizarre season.

September is full of inter-division games. The Red Sox will play six against Toronto, seven against Baltimore, seven against New York, and three against Tampa Bay. Each division rival faces a similar schedule, with one more interleague series thrown in for some of them. Therefore, this thing could change on an almost hourly basis until the death.

With multiple games affecting the standings each night, scoreboard watching will be imperative. One streak, either positive or negative, could have massive consequences at this point, for a variety of teams. Only the best will survive, as the battle for October reaches boiling point. Let the strongest team emerge victorious.