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 3 Recap

First pitch on Saturday night was sixty-three degrees. Pitching matchup: Mike Leake, 34 walks in 2018 – tied for 3rd fewest amongst pitchers to throw at least 180 innings, versus Eduardo Rodriguez, career-bests in wins (13), ERA (3.82), and WHIP (1.27) in 2018. The following is Boston Red Sox game-3 recap.

The game started with an out on a roller from Andrew Benintendi to Dee Gordon. Mookiegame 3 recap Betts then struck out, Rafael Devers hit a single to left, and J.D. Martinez flew out to deep left.

Seattle scored first. Tim Beckham connected on a Rodriguez changeup for a RBI single to center field, and Ryon Healy roped a RBI double to left. Rodriguez escaped the first inning by allowing two runs on 31 pitches.

Game-3 recap: Red Sox lone extra base hit

Mitch Moreland doubled to left-center in the top of the second and Jackie Bradley Jr. singled him in. It was Bradley Jr.’s first RBI of the season. Seattle 2, Boston 1.

In the third, Martinez smoked a line drive to left. Devers came in to score after stealing second base earlier in Martinez’s at-bat. Boston even the score, 2-2.

The next run came in the bottom of the fourth, when Dee Gordon punched a ball over Devers head at third base. Ryon Healy scored.

Game-3 recap: Rodriguez gets roughed up on mound

Seattle scored 3 more in the next inning on a 3-run shot by Jay Bruce. Seattle 6, Boston 2. Eduardo Rodriguez exited the game after pitching 4.1 innings. His pitches by inning were 31, 14, 16, 26, 19. He became the third straight Red Sox starter to allow at least 6 runs.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s Leake pitched a quality start: 6 innings, two earned runs.

Game-3 recap premier moment

The ninth inning was packed with excitement for the second straight night. Sox catcher Christian Vazquez pinch-hit for Blake Swihart and singled to start the frame. Seattle’s Zac Rosscup then got two quick outs, a Jackie Bradley Jr. strike out and an Eduardo Nunez ground out. Andrew Benintendi then walked. Mookie Betts was up next, and hit a screamer to third, where Dylan Moore juggled it, picked the ball up and threw it over Ryon Healy’s head at first. A run scored on the error. Seattle 6, Boston 3. Rafael Devers hit another hot-shot to Moore, and this time it ricocheted off his glove and past the infield dirt. Benintendi scored Boston’s fourth run and Betts was stopped at third.

Mariners skipper Scott Servais then replaced Rosscup with Nick Rumbelow. J.D. Martinez was up next and, sure enough, hit another ball to Moore at third. A third straight error was made! Martinez was safe at first and Betts scored. Seattle 6, Boston 5. Xander Bogaerts was at the plate with the tying run 90-feet away from home plate. He struck out on three straight pitches. Bogaerts went 0-5 Saturday night. Final score: Seattle 6, Boston 5.

It was a tough night for Red Sox hitters. Moreland had the sole extra-base hit. Betts and Bogaerts went a combined 0-10. The team went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Some things I liked were Devers reaching base 3 out of 5 times out of the 3-hole, Benintendi staying in the game after fouling a ball off his leg, the rally put on by Sox hitters for the second straight night, and the bullpen: 3.2 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 5 k’s.

The ugly? Rodriguez on the mound, Alex Cora’s decision to keep Rodriguez on the mound into the fifth inning, and Benintendi, Betts, and Bogaerts averaging a combined .200 at the plate. The Sox send Rick Porcello to the mound next for the series finale against Wade LeBlanc.

Next game is Sunday, March 31st at 4:00 PM/ET.