Red Sox Struggles Continue: Shutout Two Nights In A Row

FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Matt Chapman clobbered an 89 MPH fastball off Chris Sale with one out in the top of the first inning last night, Red Sox Nation cringed. The ball did not have much loft to it. Right off the bat, I thought the ball had a chance at staying in the yard. But as it kept carrying, and as I saw the left-center field fence only 367 feet away, my doubts sunk in, and a split-second later, a Red Sox starter had given up its 12th home run. As Chapman rounded the bases, one thought crept into my head: the Red Sox struggles continue.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the Sox pitched phenomenally the rest of the way. SaleRed Sox Struggles Continue pitched 6 innings, walked two, and allowed only two more hits, one of which was an infield single and the other a single to center. He threw 87 total pitches. The Sox only had to tax two relievers as well, Brandon Workman and Ryan Brasier. Workman pitched the 7th and Brasier pitched the 8th; both of them did not allow a run.

Where Boston struggled in this one was at the plate. More specifically, failing to capitalize when runners were in scoring position. Hitters went 0-7 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Mookie Betts reached second base after doubling off Mike Fiers in the 3rd with two outs. Andrew Benintendi then grounded to second to end the inning.

To lead off the 4th, Rafael Devers singled to right-center field. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts followed with two consecutive flyouts. Devers could not tag up to advance from first base. Mitch Moreland, next up, singled to right field. Devers rounded second and reached third base. Brock Holt then grounded out to end the frame.

In the top of the 6th, Benintendi recorded Boston’s fifth hit of the evening with an infield single. Subsequently, he stole second. Two batters later, Martinez was able to move Benintendi to third. Following that, with two outs, Bogaerts struck out swinging.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez also reached third base, after a double and a stolen base. To end the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out swinging. My thinking: the Red Sox struggles continue.

Laureano Again?!

Bogaerts came to the plate in the 9th with one out. He launched a deep fly ball to center field. Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano, who gunned down Bogaerts at home plate the night before, went up for the catch, but missed. The ball ricochetted off the wall and rolled back onto the outfield grass. Laureano picked up the ball and threw a one-hop dart to Chapman at third base. Chapman caught it cleanly, slapped his glove down on Bogaerts’ side, and the call was ‘out’!

From there, even with Moreland coming to the plate, the life had been sucked out of the Red Sox. Holt eventually struck out to end the game.

Alex Cora frustrated, but still satisfied

“Right now nothing’s going our way,” the Sox manager was quoted as saying on NESN.com. “Honestly, after tonight, I feel better. I feel better because it was a game. 1-0, we had a chance. We competed. … I know what the record is, but honestly I can go home and get some sleep.”

The Sox have now lost four games in a row. Almost a full week into the 2019 season, they find themselves solidified into last place in the AL East.

The Red Sox struggles continue into tonight’s third game out of four against the A’s. First pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET.

Red Sox Should Drop Farrell for Lovullo

It’s early in the season, but the Red Sox are already showing signs that this season won’t be much different than the last two. Clay Buchholtz continues to struggle on the mound, the team fails to drive in crucial runs, and for the first time since I started attending Sox games in 2014, I’ve seen a visible drop in attendance. You could attribute it to the cold weather (45 degree temperatures make it hard to enjoy a game, especially at night), but it drop Farrelldoesn’t help that the Sox are off to a challenging start. This idea leads me to ask whether the Red Sox should drop Farrell now and replace him with Torey Lovullo, who did much better managing the team last season. Personally, I think it’s time to drop Farrell.

Tory Lovullo took over as manager last season when Farrell was diagnosed with stage 1
lymphoma. The team went from performing sluggishly to scoring 37 runs in the first two games. Lovullo even had a .636 winning percentage through the end of September. This positive turn of events overshadowed the .439 winning percentage Farrell had before leaving for medical treatment. Farrell eventually returned to the team, taking the reigns back from Lovullo, who the Red Sox signed to a two-year contract to stay with the team as bench coach. Many saw this as an insurance move in the event that Farrell, God forbid, gets sick again.

Is it Time to Drop Farrell?

There’s another reason to drop Farrell from the Red Sox. Last June, after he was pulled from the game, Wade Miley got into a heated argument in the dugout with Farrell. Some saw this as Farrell’s inability to manage his team and retain their respect. Of course, players get angry and want to vent from time to time, but the fact that Miley blew up at Farrell is a sign that he’s not commanding the respect that managers deserve. While Miley is partly to blame for that incident, a stronger manager would have never tolerated that in the first place. On a larger level, it is a sign that tensions were, and probably still are, high in the clubhouse. If that’s the case, it needs to be defused by a change in management.

Maybe it’s still too early to tell, but at what point do you decide that it’s time for a change?

John Farrell, The Leader of the Pack

John Farrell

There is no comparison to make when it comes to managers John Farrell and Bobby Valentine, so let’s not make assumptions and let’s just cut to the chase.  John Farrell, the 46th manager of the Boston Red Sox is, by far, one of the most confident, casual and clairvoyant managers in baseball this season.  He’s got his players under a spell and we’re watching him like a hawk; a spell in which he leads the Red Sox from a grueling season in 2012 to an outstanding 2013.  His offense is stellar and pitching remarkable.  Clay Buchholtz may be injured right now, but Jon Lester remains as a fantastic starter.  The offense is one of the best in the AL East.  As of June 11, 2013 the Red Sox held a record of 147 doubles and 47 home runs.

But this isn’t about stats.  Instead, this is about a respectable, trustworthy, humble and honorable man who has

John Farrell

The Red Sox and Phillies paid tribute to veterans on Memorial Day, wearing uniforms and caps that featured US Marine Corps military camouflage.

instilled camaraderie within a clubhouse which was once in disarray. Leading into the 2013 season, it seemed as though John Farrell was up against a brick wall.  His team was beat. There was lack of sportsmanship amongst the players and his DH, David Ortiz, was on the DL. Thankfully, Farrell had been the Sox’ pitching coach in years passed and players like Clay Buccholz and Jon Lester knew of his style and respected him as a coach for what he could bring to the table.  In an interview with Mr. Farrell, back in October, he discussed his strategy to bring the Sox to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. He has to know the individual players.  He has to know what went wrong last season to get to the bottom of things, to get to the top.  He knew of the lackluster, Bobby Valentine, a poor excuse, and he knew that the, “clubhouse culture had to be changed” states David Ortiz.

John FarrellIt’s July 16, midseason, the All-Star game was Monday at Citi Field; Buchholz, although injured, Pedroia and Ortiz will be in attendance. The Sox are up 58-38 in the AL East, and the playoffs are just around the bend.   As I said before, there is no comparison to make between the two managers, Farrell and Bobby V. Case in point, Farrell “sets a good precedent for leadership”, so let’s stop and pay homage to our humble manager.

John Farrell’s No Tolerance Policy Leads to Wins

john farrell

Courtesy of newenglandsportsjournal.com

 

There is no tolerance for poor performance.  We have John Farrell to thank for clubhouse climate change. (Seems he has also had a positive effect on the weather.) Only winning is allowed in Boston. Come hell or tight games, like the one played on Wednesday, Farrell will deliver. We saw the mistakes of managers of the past and asked ourselves, “Why does it seem that [insert manager’s name here] is not making any decisions?” Nope, 2013 is the year of decisions and managerial strategy. There is a new sheriff in town. Sheriff Farrell’s rules are simple: shape up or ship out. You either produce, or it is time for you to go. There are plenty of people waiting in the wings to fill your spot in the lineup, while you work on fielding and at-bats at one of the Red Sox farm affiliates.

For instance, Farrell told reporters on Thursday that the decision to move Alfredo Aceves down to Pawtucket was solely performance based. The same goes for outstanding performances by players in Pawtucket or Portland. Great examples reside in Daniel Bard earning his way back to the mound Thursday night. With all the talent that we have in the minor leagues, so many guys nipping at the major league players’ heels, it creates an atmosphere of excellence and a little bit of fear. Fear is a motivator. I think we have seen this fear take hold of Clay Buchholz. Even when he performs well, we see at press conferences that he wants to do even better. He is not satisfied. That is fear. He hears the feet of those who want his place in the rotation pounding behind him.

Farrell is throwing every bit of talent he has at the game. This is not about playing guys who are highest on the payroll. This is a meritocracy. It seems, as far as pitching, third base, and some of the outfield positions are concerned, he has not come out of Spring Training mode. He changes things up in the middle of games. He moves players like Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes between right and left field, or even first base. Pitching, clearly his bread and butter, is where he makes constant changes.  In the last week alone, we have seen Steven Wright, Allen Webster, and Bard come up and down between the farms and the majors.

No stone will be left unturned when looking for talent. It is exciting for fans to see new players on the field. It is exciting to see Farrell, ever the mad strategist, at work. It is the beginning of a great season. 2013: the year of decisions, zero tolerance for losing, and sky-high expectations.

John Farrell, Quietly Managing

john farrell

Courtesy of wbur.org

We have not seen, nor heard, a whole lot from John Farrell. I am glad, especially after a season of Mr. Press Conference, himself, Bobby V.  If people are not talking, it tends to mean they are busy working. Those are the coaches and managers that are successful. The low-profile students of the game, that when asked a question by the media have a concise, serious answer that gives just enough information to satisfy the reporter.

The manager’s focus should be on strategy. Farrell has a keen perspective on the game, having been a pitching coach and manager. We can only guess, based on the style of play observed by these Red Sox, how he is coaching his players. He was a pitching coach, so he knows the defensive side well. He knows how pitchers and catchers work together, what the in-field or outfield may expect, too. In addition, that information about pitching can be used towards understanding the offensive perspective. Farrell knows which pitches players most often try to hit. He would be more capable, in real time, to tell the batter what best to do based on pitch count, a pitcher’s pattern, and other factors he may pick up just watching the game unfold.

It seems more hits have been made in the first two games. Good, bad or indifferent, these hits got players on base. Conservative play at the plate is not a bad thing. Yes, the crowds want home runs, but as I have stated in a previous post, teams do not need home runs, just a runner crossing home plate. We need wins, and in that department Farrell managed well in these first two games of the season.