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.

Why Do The Red Sox Leave Runners On Base?

There’s a problem in Boston that few are discussing. The Red Sox leave runners on base. As of August 11th, they lead the American League in runners left on base at an average of 15.50 per game. The Red Sox also lead the league in runners in scoring position left on base at 3.78. So if the Red Sox are leaving all teams in baseball with a .283 batting average, then why aren’t we scoring more?

The problem of how the Red Sox leave runners on base has existed for a fewRed Sox leave runners seasons now. Up to May 21st last season, the Sox were batting just .199 with eight doubles, three triples and 11 home runs when runners were in scoring position. You’d think after two seasons that John Farrell would focus more on this problem. But so far this season it seems as though the team blows every opportunity to score when the load the bases. It’s particularly frustrating when they load the bases with no outs, and strand them all after three.

Dustin Pedrioa, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and David Ortiz are strong hitters. They can get on base. Betts and Bradley Jr. can steal bases to get into scoring position. They’re doing their part. So that leaves the bottom half of the lineup. Except for Sandy Leon, the Red Sox bottom half of the lineup is mediocre at best. Travis Shaw isn’t hitting the ball like he once was. Aaron Hill has yet to get into a hitting groove. Hanley Ramirez is good when he gets hits but he’s been inconsistent all season. It’s only worse when someone like Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez is catching because their batting averages are lower than some NL starting pitcher’s.

Here’s a radical idea. Instead of making the lineup top-heavy with good hitters, mix the good hitters with the bad. Make it odd/even. Pedrioa starts off, followed by someone like Aaron Hill. Hill’s on-base percentage isn’t too bad this season so there’s a good chance he could reach base. Betts could advance him. Bring up Shaw, who might ground out, but will advance Hill and Betts. Then bring in another big gun like Ortiz or Bradley Jr. to drive them home. Don’t insert anyone into the lineup with a OBP of less than .300. We have plenty of hitters with a .300 or better OBP.

But what do I know? I’m just an English teacher, not a baseball manager. What I do know though is that the Red Sox leave runners on base more often than they should, and it doesn’t look like the problem will get better any time soon.