Shockingly Poor Start For The Red Sox

Not what you expected to happen, right? The Sox played four meaningful games in March, one last night, and now it’s April 2nd. The team lost 3 of 4 in Seattle and were shut out last night in Oakland. To say the least, 2019 has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

The starting pitching has been horrific. Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez,shockingly poor start Rick Porcello, and David Price have now all pitched. The results are ugly: 26 earned runs and eleven home runs allowed in 21 innings. The bullpen has not been much better. The club’s eight relievers have all been used, and in 20 innings, have surrendered 20 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 home runs, and eight walks. Matt Barnes has collected the team’s lone save.

In regards to hitting, reigning MVP Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, who bat one-and-two in the lineup, both have on-base percentages (OBP) of .250. Only Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez own an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) over .800. In comparison to other teams, Boston ranks in the top-5 in all hitting categories, but in the bottom-5 in most pitching ranks.

Now that we know all of that, we must address the key question, which is: what is going on with the Red Sox and why have they come out “flat” after winning the World Series last year?

Pitching is the problem

The starting pitching, besides Price’s performance last night, have not given the offense a chance to get going. 7 runs were allowed in the first 3 innings of game-1, 3 runs through two innings in game-2, 2 runs in the first inning of game-3, and 9 runs through 3 innings of game-4.

In 2018, the Red Sox were the only team that qualified for the postseason to have four hitters (with at least 500 plate appearances) record an OPS of at least .830: Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Bogaerts. First baseman Steve Pearce, who played in just 50 regular season games with the team down the stretch, recorded a .901 OPS. One could attribute Betts’s .598 OPS, Benintendi’s .375 OPS, and Pearce’s absence (calf injury) to the poor start for the Red Sox.

Also in 2018, Boston was the only team (postseason eligible) to have a player save more than 40 games with a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) less than 1.00. That player? Craig Kimbrel – he is not back with the club this year. Kimbrel’s presence in the bullpen could factor in nicely moving forward and take some pressure off relievers.

Poor attitude

One factor to the shockingly poor start for the Red Sox that cannot be measured by statistics is their attitude. Their leader, manager Alex Cora, was asked during postgame if there was any concern following the team’s loss last night.

“Not really. It’s five games. When you go through stretches like this, it (stinks) that it’s early in the season, but yeah, we have to pick it up.”

Cora’s nonchalant demeanor is not changing the way the team is approaching games. The top of the lineup needs to get going. Cora announced today on MLB Network that Betts will move back to the leadoff spot. The starting pitching now starts its second turn. So far this season, Sox pitchers have allowed the most runs in the American League. They rank second-to-last in earned run average (ERA) and batting average against (BAA). In addition, Boston is the only AL team to not record a quality start.

Tonight’s first pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET. We’ll see if things start to change this evening in what has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

Red Sox Game 4 Recap

Sunday’s pitching matchup was between Rick Porcello (career-high 190 strikeouts in 2018) vs. Wade LeBlanc (27 starts, 3.72 ERA in 2018). Andrew Benintendi was held out of the lineup for the first time in 2019. Mookie Betts led off for the first time since last year’s World Series Game 5. To begin Boston Red Sox 2019 game-4 recap, let’s see how Rafael Devers scored the Sox’s first run on Sunday.

The Sox scored first in this one. After a ground out by Betts to start the game, Deversgame 4 recap doubled to deep left and J.D. Martinez drove him in with a RBI single up the middle. Eduardo Nunez drove in two more later in the first inning, thanks to an error from third baseman Ryon Healy that loaded the bases.

Porcello breezed through the first with 2 k’s and a flyout. LeBlanc pitched a clean second. Jay Bruce led off the bottom of inning two with a stand up double to right and Omar Narvaez singled right after. Bruce to third. Later in the inning with two outs, Dee Gordon singled in both Bruce and Narvaez. Boston 3, Seattle 2.

Game 4 recap premier moment

In the top of the third, the Red Sox put two men in scoring position (Martinez and Mitch Moreland), but were unable to score. In the bottom half, Mitch Haniger drove a ball to left field and Martinez, who usually DH’s, dropped the ball in the sun. Haniger safe at second. Three batters later, Narvaez belted a three-run home run into the right field bleachers. Seattle 5, Boston 3. Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith added the next two runs via a sacrifice fly and a RBI single. 7-3, Seattle. Porcello was pulled after throwing 73 pitches in 2.2 innings. Brian Johnson came on in relief.

The Mariners still were not done in the third. With two outs, Haniger doubled in two more with a double, past Devers, down the left field line. Domingo Santana flew out to deep center to end the inning after seven runs scored. Seattle 9, Boston 3.

Game 4 recap: Sox strike right back

The Sox struck right back. With two men on (Betts, Devers) and two outs in the top of the fourth, Martinez hammered a ball far and gone, just inside the left field foul pole. The deficit was cut to three.

Jay Bruce responded immediately, though, with a solo shot to right-center off Johnson. The left-hander escaped the inning after allowing another extra-base hit – a double to Healy. Seattle 10, Boston 6.

Betts launched a solo shot in the sixth inning off Mariners reliever Nick Rumbelow to cut the lead back to three. Both teams went scoreless the next two and a half innings.

In the ninth inning with the bases loaded, M’s reliever Chasen Bradford walked pinch-hitter Blake Swihart to score Martinez. The tying run moved to scoring position at second base. Christian Vazquez then struck out and Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out to end the game. Final score: Seattle 10, Boston 8.

Some things I liked from Sunday’s game were the three runs scored in the first inning, J.D. Martinez knocking in four runs, hitters going 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and the strong finish by Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, Ryan Brasier in relief. Things I did not like were a costly error by Martinez in the outfield that helped fuel a seven-run inning, hitters leaving ten men stranded on base, and Porcello’s inability to pitch 3 innings.

Game 4 recap: Opening Series takeaway

The Red Sox finished their first series of the season with one win and three losses. Spectacularly, each of their starting pitchers (Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Porcello) allowed at least six runs. Martinez and Devers combined for 13 hits. Andrew Benintendi had just one hit. Martinez had two home runs. The most effective relief pitchers were Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. Combined, the two allowed 2 hits and 2 walks in 4.1 innings.

Boston starts their next series tonight against the Oakland Athletics. First pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET.

Carson Smith’s “Fatigue” Excuse Is Worse Than His Injury

It’s crazy how the Red Sox are one of the best teams in the league again this year and yet, it feels like everything about them stinks right now. The bad news keeps on coming, as hard-throwing reliever Carson Smith sustained a “subluxation” of his right shoulder on Monday night after throwing his glove in the dugout. The worst part is that he says this injury was caused by “fatigue” from pitching too much. What a boneheaded move and excuse by a player that already frustrates Red Sox fans.

Smith came in to a tight game against the A’s on Monday night, and allowed an eighthfatigue inning homer to Oakland slugger Khris Davis. Frustrated with his performance, he chucked his glove once he got back into the dugout. Not a smart move, as now he’s got a shoulder injury because of stupidity.

To make matters worse for the righty, he came out and blamed his injury on being tired. “I think fatigue played a factor,” Smith said. “My shoulder just couldn’t handle it. I think my shoulder is tired in general just from pitching. I’ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”

Dude, you cannot be serious. You’ve thrown all of 14.1 innings this season after spending basically the first two years of your Boston career on the disabled list. How are you possibly out of gas!? I can’t fathom what some of these guys say sometimes. They don’t understand that what is coming out of their mouthes is worse than what the actual situation is. Smith is just the latest example of a guy that doesn’t get it and probably never will.

Fatigue? The manager disagrees.

Alex Cora didn’t seem to appreciate Smith’s comments either. He spoke to the media and said that he didn’t agree with what Smith had said regarding fatigue. “On a daily basis we talk to pitchers and see how they feel,” he started. “If they don’t think they can pitch that day, we stay away from them. It caught me be surprise. If he felt that way, he should’ve told it to us or he should’ve mentioned it.”

Cora added that he will address Smith’s comments with him at some point. I sure hope he does, because Smith will only offer a “no comment” to the media. This man pitched just as much as any reliever the Sox have and yet won’t take any responsibility for his actions.

A disappointing Red Sox tenure thus far

My high hopes for Smith are no more. Wasn’t he good in Seattle? Well, so far this season he has been very mediocre. He was pitching to a 3.77 ERA with 18 strikeouts which is certainly not the numbers you are looking for. Even so, the Boston bullpen is so bad that I was thinking it was time to give him a go in the eighth inning. Instead, he’ll be hitting the 10-day disabled list.

Let me guess, you’re saying something like “freak injuries happen” and “at least he’ll only be out 10 days.” Well, he’s actually going to be out for longer than that according to Dave Dombrowski. There is no timetable for his return and it could be a “major injury” according to the Red Sox president of baseball operations. Smith is concerned with the severity as well, and noted that a shoulder injury is “something you don’t mess with.” Well Carson, it may have been a good idea to think that one through before you went and decided to throw a temper tantrum.

Sonny Gray is the Missing Piece to the Red Sox Rotation

The Boston Red Sox are on a historic pace offensively. However, some nights even the offense is incapable of bailing out the runs given up by the starting rotation. With Price rounding into form to go along with the solid seasons put together by Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, the Sox are two starting pitchers away from being serious World Series contenders. One of those starters is Eduardo Rodriguez who is nearing a return in theSonny Gray rotation. The other starter should be Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray, a guy the Sox must target at the 2016 MLB trade deadline.

Gray has had his struggles this season after posting a 2.73 ERA last season. The Sox
offense recently lit him up for seven earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. However, the talent is there and the resume is there with Gray. He’s had two consecutive seasons with over 200 innings pitched and has been a reliable arm for the Athletics. He comes at a reasonable price for the Sox as well.

Gray is under team control through 2020. The Sox would likely have to ship out one of the top prospects in our farm system. The guy I would ship out would be Andrew Benintendi, the outfielder who was just recently promoted to Double A Portland. Benintendi would provide Oakland with a centerfielder to build an offense around. While it would be tough seeing Benintendi go, the Sox have the guys in place to deal him away. After all, starting pitching is essential to winning a world series.

Without a strong starting rotation, it is very tough to win it all, even with an offense as potent as the Red Sox. With Gray and Price, the Sox would have a solid one-two punch at the front end of their rotation, something the Sox have lacked for years. Acquiring him would also slide Porcello into the third spot in the rotation, a much more comfortable place for him to pitch. Porcello would be followed by Rodriguez and Wright in a very improved starting rotation. The pieces are there to pull it off, the question is whether or not Dave Dombrowski will do it.

Will Ortiz Actually Retire?

There’s no doubt that David Ortiz is having one of the best seasons of his career. With 9 home runs, 29 RBIs, and a batting average over .320 in the wake of a three game series against the Oakland Athletics, many in the Red Sox nation are asking: Will Ortiz actually retire at the end of the season?

“No, I’m retiring,” Ortiz told ESPN in a tone suggesting that he’s dead set on making his season his last. While he’s onWill Ortiz Actually Retire track to post great numbers this season, probably with an all-star appearance thrown in for good measure, Ortiz wouldn’t be the first Red Sox player to finish his career on a good note. In 1960, at the age of 41, Ted Williams finished the final season of his career in Boston with a .316 batting average and 29 home runs, including a home run in his last at-bat. Even Babe Ruth left Boston with high numbers in 1919 by leading the American League in runs, home runs, and RBIs before going to the New York Yankees. Yes, leaving Boston on a high note seems to be a tradition for seasoned Sox players.

Many who believe that Ortiz is retiring after this season point to the idea that he most likely wants to finish his career on a high note. After all, many players in the Baseball Hall of Fame played a few years too long and their career batting averages took a hit as a result.  On top of wanting to leave on a high note, there’s also the idea that there’s really nothing left for David Ortiz to accomplish. Of course, he could stay on and break Ted William’s team home run record of 521, but that would be a drop in the bucket compared to the accolades he’s already accumulated in his career. Ortiz has three World Series rings, he’s in the 500 Home Run Club, he’ll be a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021, and his status as a Red Sox legend is already etched in stone.

So when people ask me, “Will Ortiz actually retire?” I’ll say yes, because the man has done his job for Boston and it’s time for him to move on to other things in his life.

Fenway Park Netting a Necessary Eye Sore

Officials at Fenway Park extended the safety netting down the first and third base lines before the season began in an effort to keeps fans safer from broken bats and foul balls. While the Fenway Park netting is definitely an eye sore (for a short while), I think it’s also important for the sake of the fans.

Grumbling about the netting has been loud and clear from the Red Sox Nation. HorrorFenway Park netting writer Stephen King, a Maine native and season ticket holder, wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe about the netting: “There are questions inherent in the decision to net…Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?” While King makes a solid point about whose responsibility it is to stay safe at a game, last season saw a few injuries that show there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself of flying objects.

In a game against the Oakland Athletics last June, Oakland’s Brett Lawrie’s bat shattered on a groundout to second. Pieces of the bat flew into the third baseline seats, severely injuring a fan who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The woman sustained cuts to her face and forehead causing severe bleeding. The following month saw another woman get hurt, this time by a speeding foul ball during a game against the New York Yankees. Thankfully, both fans recovered.

Fenway Park Netting Isn’t So Bad

There’s some cases where there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself from flying projectiles.  Sometimes you’re just in the line of fire and with limited mobility can be hard to get out of the way. More than once I’ve seen fans try and catch foul balls going over 100 mph with their bare hands, only to leave the game with an icepack covering their palms. This is why I always bring a baseball glove (no foul balls caught yet). But then there are those who are constantly on their cellphones taking stupid selfies and posting pictures of their $9 hot dogs to Instagram. Those are the people who really need to pay attention because they’re the ones who are most susceptible to getting knocked out by a foul like Drew Barrymore’s character in Fever Pitch.

I’ve sat behind the Fenway Park netting once or twice this season and honestly, you don’t really notice it after the first ten minutes. I’ve taken some amazing photos through the netting that hardly shows up on the photos; it’s not that thick. So while purists can yell all the want about how it takes away from the game, they should focus their anger on those who come to games only to spend the entire time taking selfies of their stupid faces for four hours.