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.

The Red Sox are Finally Halfway Through the Season

The All Star game and Home Run Derby are finally done. Now the Red Sox are halfway through the season with one goal in mind. That goal – Make it to the postseason. It sounds like a long shot, but hopefully with some motivation, it can be done.

Over the past few days, the Red Sox have been involved in trade talks, especially when ithalfway through comes to pitching. One thing to note is that they are in the process of moving postseason hero, Nathan Eovaldi to the bullpen. At 49-41, the Red Sox are two games out of the Wild Card. The question now is, can they do what it takes to see October?

A lot of Questions Halfway Through the Season

Right now, the Red Sox are in third place in the American League East. The two teams in front of them, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, have been on a ht streak for some time now. As we saw in London, the Yankees aren’t slowing down anytime soon. As for the Rays, they are 4-3 in July, and finished the half with the fourth best record in team history.

One thing that these two teams have that the Red Sox are lacking is solid pitching. For Tampa Bay, two of their pitchers are in the top ten in ERA, with Charlie Morton in the number one spot. The Yankees, who have one of the better bullpens in the Majors, have a successful closer in Aroldis Chapman. Right now, he is leading the league with twenty four saves.

The big question for the Red Sox is the bullpen. One bright spot in the bullpen for Boston is Brandon Workman. Right now, he is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. In 2019, Workman has pitched in 43 games, logging 40.1 innings and striking out fifty five batters. This is all well and good, however, the rest of the bullpen needs a wake up call.

At the halfway point, the bullpen has blown eighteen saves, and are behind the New York Mets who have blown twenty one. Last season, the Red Sox only had twenty blown saves. At this rate, they’re looking at not only passing last season’s blown saves, but possibly doubling the eighteen they have now.

Another question mark is the rotation. With both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello having off years, it’s tough not to think about adding another arm to the mix. Right now, one of the rumors is that the Red Sox might be trading for another starter. This will help big time, especially later in the season. We saw how that worked out last season with the trade for Nathan Eovaldi.

Is The Magic Gone?

No, really, is it? Think about it. Last season, the Red Sox were 68-30 at the halfway point. This season, they’re 49-41. In the offseason, the only major impacts were that Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel left. Other than that, the team is practically the same. Granted, no team has won back to back championships since the Yankees did it in 1999 and 2000. Actually, they won three times in a row, but that’s another story.

Mookie Betts and the rest of the line up are slowly waking up, and getting the ball in play. The call up of Michael Chavis and the emergence of Rafael Devers in his second full season has definitely helped the Red Sox. As for the pitching part, time can only tell what will happen next. In a few short weeks, the trade deadline will be here. Will the Red Sox be buyers, or sellers? Will Dave Dombrowski do what needs to be done to get this team back to the postseason? Red Sox Nation only hopes that he will.

April Awards: Hitters, Pitchers, Fielders

April has come and gone. The Sox finished the month on a strong note – two wins at home against the Athletics. Their overall record is 13-17, good for 7 games back in the AL East. After some fast starts (Mitch Moreland: 10 extra base hits in first 14 games) and slow starts (Rick Porcello: 11.12 ERA through first 3 starts) to the season, the team heads into May with some optimism, as they look to capture their second sweep of the season today. The following are April awards for Red Sox players:

Player of the Month: Mookie Betts

  • Betts has batted second in the lineup for most of the season. He leads Red Soxapril awards hitters in at-bats, runs, walks, on-base percentage, and OPS. He has also been very efficient in the field, as he leads all Boston outfielders with 5 assists. He has permitted zero errors in mostly right field and some center field. After batting as low as the Mendoza-line through the season’s first three weeks, Betts has turned things around. He batted .452 in the final 11 games of April.

Best starting pitcher: David Price

  • This April award was easy to hand to Price, not because Price’s stuff has been dominant, but because everyone else’s hasn’t been great. Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez have ERAs above six. Rick Porcello’s ERA is above five-and-a-half. Nathan Eovaldi made four starts (6.00 ERA) before going under the knife. Price owns an ERA of 3.60 and a WHIP of 1.07. He finished April with two quality starts.

Best reliever: Ryan Brasier

  • The Red Sox started the season without a firm understanding of their team’s closer. Brasier has become their guy. Six saves in seven opportunities is good for 5th in the American League. His 1.32 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and .188 batting average against are all elite numbers. Matt Barners, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman have all been stellar as well, but Brasier takes the cake here.

Best hitter: J.D. Martinez

  • Martinez, who is batting .312 on the season, edges out Betts by a hair. The former leads the team in batting average and hits (34), and is third in on-base and slugging. Martinez led the led in hits, home runs, and RBI last year. I expect him to do the same this season.

Best fielder: Christian Vázquez

  • The April award could have gone to Betts, or Mitch Moreland, or Xander Bogaerts. Vázquez’s presence behind the dish has been extremely valuable, with the unexpected departure of Blake Swihart and easing-in of Sandy León. Vázquez has caught 5 base runners stealing, which ranks 3rd in the AL. However, more spectacularly, his zero errors ranks first in the AL.

Best rookie: Michael Chavis

  • Of all the April awards, this was an easy one – not just because Chavis is the only Red Sox rookie to receive regular looks this year. His numbers are terrific. His batting average is above .300, on-base above .400, and OPS above 1.000. He has earned an everyday role at second base, and has even seen time at first and third. His bat is for power (3 home runs), and he seems to feel comfortable with his glove while lined up at several infield positions.

Latest Red Sox homestand offers hope for winning streak

After a crucial weekend series in Tampa that resulted in a sweep, the latest Red Sox homestand presented the team an opportunity to do damage on some beatable opponents. The team remains under .500, but did start to show signs of rising up from the ashes of a losing April. Following the sweep of the Rays, optimism was abound as the fan base thought, “maybe this is when the team turns it around!” A lopsided Detroit series followed by a part of tightly contested losses to Tampa got the homestand offer to an undesirable start. A strong finish over Oakland pulled Boston back above water though. Let’s look back at the key points of each series.

Series One: Detroit (10-10), split series 2-2

  • In game one of a doubleheader, following a rainout the night before, the Red Sox Red Sox homestandhomestand started off with a strong start from Chris Sale, but a start that only saw him work five innings.
  • 2019 rising star Matthew Boyd tossed a quality start (7 IP, 3 R, 3 K) and led Detroit to a 7-4 day-game victory.
  • In game two, rookie hurlers Darwinzon Hernandez (2.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 K) and Travis Lakins (2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 K) appeared out of the bullpen in impressive fashion in their major league debuts.
  • Much like in game one, the Red Sox offense had a quiet evening at the plate, losing 4-2.
  • In game three, the Sox bats broke out for the first time, powered by a balance attack that saw Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez drive in a pair of runs each
  • The Sox were also powered by Eduardo Rodriguez’s best start of the season to date (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 7 K) in an 11-3 laugher.
  • In the finale, the Red Sox bat’s again showed burst, leaning on a home run from rookie Michael Chavis and a two-run double from Devers, as well as quality start from Rick Porcello in a 7-3 victory.

Series Two: Tampa Bay (18-9), lose series 0-2

  • A strong start by David Price (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 7 K) but a poor night from the Red Sox offense in a 2-1 loss in game one.
  • In the second matchup, Chris Sale rebounded after allowing four runs in the first two innings to go seven strong. It was not enough though as the Red Sox fell to Tyler Glasnow and the Rays 5-2.
  • Charlie Morton and Glasnow both shined in their starts against Boston, allowing just three earned runs combined.
  • The loss was Sale’s fifth on the season, and he remains without a victory.

Series Three: Oakland 14-16), win series 3-0

  • With the Red Sox homestand looking like yet another setback, the team rebounded well to pound Oakland over three games.
  • In game one, another spread out offensive attack, including three RBI from Chavis and three hits from Mookie Betts, helped the Sox come back from a 4-0 deficit to claim an eventual 9-4 victory.
  • The bullpen allowed just one hit and no runs in 4.1 innings of work among the six players that appeared.
  • Game two received a gem for Porcello (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 8 K) as Boston rose victorious 5-1.
  • Game three featured strong work out of the stable, as six relievers combined to allow three runs.

The Red Sox are in the midst of a seven-game road trip. They will play the White Sox before stopping in Baltimore.

Mookie Betts heating up at the right time for Boston

It’s no secret that the Red Sox have not been impressive in the opening month of their title defense. After all, finishing April at a 13-17 clip is nothing short of a disappointment to start 2019. The Sox have won 7 of their last 11 and there’s been big reason for that: Mookie Betts heating up.

The 2018 AL MVP generally starts his seasons with a cold couple of weeks, and this Mookie Betts heating upcampaign was no different. Up until about two weeks ago, Betts was slashing .212/.321/.394. Those are numbers that a lot of players would be happy with. But the Red Sox right fielder is capable of much more, and that is starting to show.

Over the 11 games since, he has started to blossom back into form. He’s hit .405 (17-for-42) with five doubles, two homers and seven RBI. But not only do the numbers suggest that he is starting to find his stride, it is clear that his approach at the plate improved as well.

A change in approach has re-calibrated Betts’ bat

Mookie Betts was the topic of discussion last night when Alex Speier of the Boston Globe joined the NESN broadcast booth. Speier pointed out that Betts had been allowing pitchers to work further into counts, a deviation from his 2018 approach. Instead of jumping on a 1-0 fastball, the right fielder was letting those pitches go by. More recently, you will notice Betts not taking strikes in the box, but instead jumping all over a middling pitch and driving it. The more aggressive approach has led to Betts becoming the middle-of-the-order hitter that manager Alex Cora envisioned.

Not only has Betts been “attacking the strike zone” as Cora would call it, but he has also started to spray the ball all over the field. According to Speier, Betts was a heavy-pull hitter through most of the 2018 regular season. But he started to shoot the ball to the opposite field at the end of the season. Betts has multiple hits in five of his last six games, and he has used all different parts of the field to place them. In Tuesday night’s game, Betts ripped a solo homer to dead center and slapped a single between a shift to left. Throughout this scorching streak, the decorated youngster has also started to avoid the pull-heavy tendencies and starting spraying hits to the opposite field based on pitch location.

Betts is taking off and becoming one of, if not the league’s hottest, hitters. Wherever Mookie goes, the Red Sox go. If he continues to produce at this level the Red Sox will be ready to re-enter the division title race.

Red Sox Sweep the Rays thanks to lifts from Moreland, others

You have tremendous foresight if you were expecting to see the Red Sox sweep the Rays after a weekend series in Tampa. With the tabloids barking for the real Red Sox to stand up, the World Champions were facing adversity really for the first time under Alex Cora. That might still be the case, as Boston still sits at just 9-13 AFTER a series sweep. But the Red Sox are finally showing real signs of shaking their funk.

The Red Sox sweep the Rays with a push from Mookie Betts

As has been the case since Betts showed MVP-ability in 2016, the team goes when he Red Sox Sweep the Raysgoes. When he struggles, so does the offense. It’s no secret Betts was scuffling entering play on Friday, going just 2 of 23 in his last seven games. That changed when he smacked a homer and a double to help lift the Sox over the Rays 6-4 to open the series. Case in point, as he went back-to-back with Mitch Moreland on home runs in the series opening victory. He continued that approach into the next two games. He added two more hits apiece in each contest. If the 2018 MVP continues to stay hot, then he very well might carry the Red Sox back to form.

The starting pitching continues to improve, and that starts with David Price

Price has arguably been the rotation’s most reliable thrower to this point in 2019. While the southpaw has tossed just one quality start so far, he has not allowed more than four runs in a start. Price has worked less than six innings only once too. Given the inconsistencies of Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez, Price’s outings have given the team a chance to win each time out. He was at his best versus Baltimore on 4/14 (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 7 K) but worked out of jams and held the Rays to two runs over five innings with 10 strikeouts on Sunday afternoon. With Eovaldi hitting the injured list, and Chris Sale still yet to truly put it together, Price’s importance cannot be overstated to the rotation’s long term success.

Martinez, Moreland, and Benintendi are all off to strong starts

As important as Betts’ oil is to grease the Red Sox’ engine, the team might be off to an even worse start if it weren’t for J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and, most notably, Moreland. Through Sunday, Moreland lead the team in homers (7) and RBI (14), and mashed most of those homers to either tie or give the Red Sox the lead. The former Texas Ranger homered again Sunday to pull the Sox within one. Martinez has been one of the best hitters in baseball, hitting .350 with a 1.004 OPS, including four homers and 11 RBI. He is also one of three players (Rafael Devers and Betts) to appear in every game so far. Benintendi crushed his first career grand slam on Saturday to give Boston an early lead. Coupled with his strong defense in the field, the Cincinnati native figures to continue to break out in 2019.

If you expected to read the headline “Red Sox Sweep the Rays” on Monday, you also see why the team has gotten back on track. If the Sox want to keep winning, it is going to take more than what they have received so far from the roster. But a three-game sweep of the first-place Rays is a good starting point. They can now look forward to the upcoming home stand with three straight wins under their belt.