We are just five games into the 2018 season, but right now things look good for the Red Sox. We’ve seen one turn through the starting rotation so far and although it doesn’t mean much, there is reason for optimism. The pitching so far has shown us a glimpse of just how good it could be. In five games, the Red Sox have given up a total of 12 runs. Half of those runs came in the first game alone when Joe Kelly and Carson Smith melted down to ruin Chris Sale’s gem. Out of the 12 runs, only three have been given up by the starters. Making it even more impressive is that the two men at the back end are not the usual guys. Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson did their jobs to come in and be not just effective, but very good, in spot-starts.
At the front end of the rotation, we saw Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello form a three-headed monster in consecutive starts for the first time since they’ve been together. Again, it’s too early to get excited but things have certainly looked encouraging.
The one thing you can come back and challenge about this is the fact that they are facing anemic lineups. The Rays and Marlins both look like Triple-A clubs, which may have something to do with the lack of offense. If you want to look at it that way, that’s perfectly fine and consistent with being a Boston sports fan. However, all you can ask is for the Sox to take care of business against whomever the opponent is. That is what they have done thus far.
The next go-round for the rotation will be similar as Sale will get the Marlins tomorrow to kick it off. After that it’ll be Price, Porcello and Velazquez going against Tampa Bay in the opening series at Fenway. Finally, Brian Johnson will face a test against the New York Yankees next week. That’s when we’ll start to get a gauge on how things are going to go on the mound.
The Boston Red Sox suffer from a problem to put runs on the board. It became a problem after the 2013 World Series. It’s only gotten worse since then. For a few years now their hitters can’t seem to come through in clutch situations. They leave too many runners on base. In fact, as of July 26th, the Red Sox rank 24th out of the 30 MLB teams that leave runners on base at 7.03. Seeing the Red Sox reverting to their inability to post runs concerns Red Sox Nation. This problem comes as the New York Yankees seize on a chance to retake the lead in the American League East.
The Red Sox captured first place in the AL East last month but can’t quite hold a comfortable lead. They’ll win a few games in a row, then Rick Porcello will lose a game and the Red Sox find themselves on a losing streak again. A lot of fans blame Porcello for his lackluster pitching this season. According to the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have scored two or less runs for Porcello in 10 of of his 20 starts this season. The offense scored two or fewer only four times in 33 starts last season. So to say that the Red Sox slump falls on Porcello’s shoulders isn’t entirely fair. In fact, it’s not as much the pitching staff’s fault as much as it’s their hitters’.
The Red Sox Reverting To Their Old Ways Will Cripple Them
Several viable teams are contending for a spot in the 2017 playoffs. The Houston Astros will surely give the Red Sox a run for their money. The Seattle Mariners, beating the Red Sox in the first two of a three-game series, will also contend for a spot. With the Red Sox reverting to their old ways of bad offense, now’s the time to rethink strategy.
Let’s start with getting rid of John Farrell. It would jolt the team into some kind of pro-active approach to the game. It would also send a message to the rest of the team that no one is immune to change (David Price is finding that out the hard way). They need a manager like Crash Davis from Bull Durham. Someone who will call out the Lollygaggers and snap them into some real action. Do that and you’ll see more runs on the board!
The Red Sox are within a game or two of capturing first place. It’s miracle in its own right if you consider the Red Sox dead weight. Pablo Sandoval isn’t panning out. Sandy Leon’s flash in the pan hitting last year isn’t carrying into this season. Rick Porcello leads the league in losses at 9. If the Red Sox are going to capture first place they need to cut some of their dead weight and they need to do it yesterday.
The Red Sox are playing great baseball. Josh Rutledge is holding his own at third. Andrew Benintendi is a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award. Mookie Betts is leading the Red Sox with 12 homers. Chris Sale is as masterful as ever. But with the Red Sox dead weight that consists of Sandoval, Porcello, and Leon, it’s hard for the team to play better, and they certainly can.
The Red Sox Are Winning the Late-Inning Games
The Red Sox were among the league leaders last year with runners left on base and runners left in scoring position. It seemed like the Red Sox gave up once they fell behind. We’re not seeing that attitude this season. Back-to-back walk-off wins against Philadelphia last week proved that the Red Sox can play under pressure. What’s even better is that players like Benintendi are the ones coming through in the clutch.
Red Sox Dead Weight Is Dragging The Team Down
It’s not always easy to cut dead weight. Players like Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello have such big contracts that it’s hard to find another team that’ll pick them up. In other instances no one wants them. But the Red Sox should just rip off the band-aid and shed these players before the All-Star break. Keeping them around is like putting raisins in oatmeal cookies. They just get in the way.
There’s a great scene in the film Moneyball where Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt, goes against expert advice and cuts a number of players, including Jeremy Giambi. These players weren’t panning out. They were dead weight on the field and a distraction in the clubhouse. While the plot of Moneyball and the reality of the Red Sox are completely different, it’s a lesson that the Red Sox could learn something from. The front office needs to stop coming up with excuses and make some difficult decisions.
I love to bake but I’m not very good at it. That’s my sister Mary’s expertise. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Mary gives me her recipes and I follow them precisely. Despite my attention to detail, my creations often come out of the oven on fire. Needless to say that’s frustrating. The Red Sox front office and management must feel the same way about the lineup they assembled this season. After all, they have all the ingredients for a
championship team but no matter how careful they are they can’t catch first place. In some cases, like my cookies, they game catches fire, and not in a good way. Their offensive is inconsistent, and so is their pitching. Unlike recent years where the Red Sox were just bad, fans are watching a discombobulated Red Sox struggle on the mound and the plate.
First and foremost I will reiterate that the Red Sox need to break up with John Farrell. He knows how to rally the troops when his job is on the line, but then they become complacent and start losing again. But replacing Farrell isn’t the only thing the Sox need to focus on.
Porcello Can’t Get It Together
Rick Porcello ran away with the Cy Young Award last year after going 22-4 last season. That’s an .846 winning percentage. So it was only natural fans and management alike expected Porcello to do the same, of not better, this year. But as of June 16th Porcello is 3-8 and leading the league in losses. Seven of his eight losses came as a result of a lack of run support. Red Sox hitters didn’t score more than four runs in any of those losses. But it doesn’t help with Porcello gives up a lot of runs either. If Porcello can find a consistently reliable pitch then we’ll start seeing more wins out of him. But for now he’s part of the reason we’re seeing a discombobulated Red Sox team on the field.
Hitters Aren’t In Their Prime Yet
It’s exciting to see Jackie Bradley Jr. blast a home run 450 feet. But don’t forget he’s only hitting .232 so far this season. Everyone loves Andrew Benintendi but he’s just a rookie and has a long ways to go before he reaches his prime. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are strong hitters but still struggle to maintain consistency throughout the season. It’s going to be another season or two before these hitters are an ever-present threat to opposing pitchers. When they enter their prime though they’ll catch fire. Hopefully David Price stays healthy, Porcello shakes his slump, and Sale becomes better than ever.
The Sox are coming off of a two-game stretch against the Philadelphia Phillies in which the team took home back to back walkoff wins. Fenway Park was buzzing on Monday and Tuesday night when Boston came away victorious in a couple of extra-inning affairs. The hero on Monday night was Dustin Pedroia, while the clutch hitter of the night on Tuesday was Andrew Benintendi. These wins are more than just a W in the column. Walkoffs not only raise confidence, but also team chemistry and usually performance catches a boost as well. The Red Sox walkoff wins should do just that.
Red Sox Walkoff Against Phillies Monday Night
On Monday night, the Red Sox trailed 4-0 after the first inning. Rick Porcello has unfortunately continued to struggle in finding a rhythm this season. The Sox did manage to battle back though, as Mookie Betts went for 3 doubles on the night and Benintendi had 3 hits. In the eleventh inning, the stage was set as Dustin Pedroia lined a ball past the second baseman Howie Kendrick. Devin Marrero score the game winning run on a head-first slide, and the celebration ensued.
Red Sox Walkoff Again on Tuesday
Fast forward to Tuesday night where Boston and Philladelphia played very evenly, matching each other with a 3-3 score in the 6th. That score would stay the same until the 12th until Andrew Benintendi came to the plate. The young Red Sox outfielding phenom ripped the ball down the right field line, scoring Xander Bogaerts and walking off for the second night in a row. Xander led the way with three hits while Mitch Moreland hit his ninth home run of the season.
What Do the Red Sox Walkoff Wins Mean?
I’m not sure why this team likes to give the fans so much stress sometimes, but a win is still a win. No matter how good we look on paper, this is still baseball where anyone can win on any day. In a league where the Cubs can lose three out of four to the Rockies, anything can happen. As long as the Sox get the win, that is really all that matters. They just have to make sure they compete against the great teams in our league, as well as the bad.
Rick Porcello and I both had a bad weekend. He lost to the Mariners 5-0 and I got dumped. Like Porcello, I thought I did everything right but apparently it wasn’t enough. He thought he did everything right too but he lost anyway. As the Red Sox struggle to grab first place, Porcello struggles to match last season’s numbers.
At least the Mariners didn’t insult Porcello by asking him if they could still be friends.
Few people expected Porcello to have the season he had last year. After all, all eyes were on David Price after he signed a $217 million deal. But it was Porcello who ran away with the accolades. However, this season is proving otherwise. Like my dating life, the Red Sox can’t score. They get on base, but their hitters can’t drive them home. Some say it’s because opposing pitchers figured out the weaknesses of the Red Sox lineup. Then again it’s not hard to figure out how to get players out like Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox are a young team. With the exception of Pedrioa, guys like Bradley Jr. Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts haven’t been in the majors for very long. They haven’t found their consistency yet. Opposing pitchers take advantage of that weakness. Unfortunately for Porcello, this means more losses than wins.
Porcello Struggles Highlight Flaws in Red Sox Lineup
Last April I asked Fred Lynn about his amazing rookie year when he won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 1975. While it was a successful year, the pressure to do better the following season intensified. “I tried to tell people, the press, ‘I did some things that no one had ever done'” Lynn told me. “I don’t know that I could do that every year.” For players like Lynn and Porcello, a successful and award-wining season only intensifies the pressure to play even better. The Red Sox had many successes last season. Several players made the All-Star team. Betts won a Gold Glove Award. Bogaerts picked up a Silver Slugger Award. But these successes happened in a close proximity, which created a positive atmosphere the players fed off of. The players don’t know how to adapt to that loss of energy.
Having a losing season after winning the Cy Young is like getting dumped. One minute you feel loved and wanted. Then you find yourself alone wondering what the hell happened. I don’t bring it up for sympathy as much as I’m writing about it because it’s the only way I can relate to Porcello. People might say that love and baseball have nothing in common, but they’re wrong. As Ted Williams once said,”Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” As Porcello struggles, he and I have to remember that defeat doesn’t mean failure. We might have more failures than successes right now, but it doesn’t mean we’re down and out. Porcello will get another start and I’ll get another date. Maybe my next date will be at Fenway Park watching him pitch!