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 Dodgers Return to Fenway for a World Series Rematch

The last time we saw the Dodgers was game five of the World Series in Los Angeles. It is a game many in Red Sox Nation will never forget. From the stellar performance by David Price, to Steve Pearce’s home run, one of many. Oh, and my personal favorite, when Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado to win it all. Now, here we are, nine months later for the World Series rematch.

While Boston is looking to climb higher in the American League East, the Dodgers areworld series rematch looking to continue their success this season. The Dodgers, who are 60-32 in the National League West, are looking to not only seek revenge on the Red Sox, but look to return to the spotlight in October.

A Highly Anticipated World Series Rematch

As mentioned above, the last time we saw the Dodgers was back in the World Series. October 28th to be exact. While the Red Sox ultimately won it all on the West Coast in game five, you would have thought that they were playing in Boston. The Fenway Faithful came out in full support of the Red Sox that night, and for the parade that followed.

The match up was perfect in every sense. From Alex Cora managing a team in his rookie year, to Dave Roberts managing in Dodger blue, every game was critical. Now, here we are, about to embark on a three game set at Fenway Park. Though it’s not October, it will have an October feel like never before.

Game one will feature Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Kenta Maeda. Rodriguez will be looking for win number ten on the season. The last time Rodriguez faced the Dodgers was at Dodger Stadium in game four. In that start, he went 5.2 innings, allowing four runs, including a home run to Yasiel Puig. Maeda also pitched in that game, going 1/3 of an inning allowing one run on two hits.

Game two will feature Chris Sale vs Ross Stripling, while the finale will feature David Price vs Hyun-Jin Ryu. All three of these games are critical to the Red Sox as they get closer and closer to the trade deadline. Also, after the series against Los Angeles, they will face Toronto for four games before heading to Baltimore.

The Return of Joe Kelly and Rich Hill

Last time we saw Joe Kelly he was in a Red Sox uniform, surrounded by his teammates after winning the World Series. The next time we saw him was on a duck boat in Boston with the World Series trophy. Now, he will be returning to Boston in Dodger blue for a World Series rematch, and receiving his well deserved World Series ring.

Not only did he trade in the red for the blue, but he traded in the number 56 for the number 17. Since signing a three year deal with Los Angeles back in December, Kelly has pitched in 30 games, going 3-3 with a 5.28 ERA. He has pitched in 30.2 innings while striking out 37 batters. The former Red Sox and Cardinal pitcher last pitched on July 6th against the San Diego Padres, pitching one inning and striking out two batters. Unfortunately, neither strikeout was to Manny Machado. Sorry Red Sox fans.

Another familiar face is Rich Hill. The Milton, MA native will be returning to Fenway Park in Dodger blue as well. Hill pitched for his hometown team from 2010-2012, and in 2015. Right now, he is in his fourth season with Los Angeles. Although he isn’t with the Red Sox organization anymore, Hill and his wife are in the process of raising one million dollars for Mass General Hospital to support research for a rare genetic disease that claimed the life of their young son. During the series, the Red Sox organization will be assisting the Hill family with their campaign.

First Homestand of the Second Half

This homestand is crucial for the Red Sox. With the Yankees and Rays tearing it up in the American League East, the Red Sox need to keep their heads above water. Also, we are a few short weeks away from the trade deadline. Last time the Red Sox won the World Series, 2014 saw the team sell most of their rotation. Pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Jon Lester were traded off. From there, the front office kept selling, causing many in Red Sox Nation to panic. Will we see that again this July 31st? Only time can tell.

The Red Sox Look To Continue Their Success at Fenway Park

After an eventful road trip that saw the Red Sox go 5-2, the Red Sox look to continue their success at Fenway Park as they welcome Seattle, Colorado and Houston. The Red Sox, who enter the homestead at an even .500, are looking to keep climbing the ladder. The Red Sox look to also dethrone the Tampa Bay Rays.

However, they need to get past three teams. One is seeking revenge following thered sox look American League Championship Series. This homestead is shaping up to be quite interesting, as the Red Sox keep rolling in May.

The Seattle Mariners Come To Boston

The Mariners look to continue their success against the Red Sox. Last time the Red Sox played Seattle they won the series 3-1. Since then, Seattle is 20-20, putting them in second place in the AL West. Prior to making the trip to Boston, they played the Yankees in New York. Seattle went 1-3 in that series.

A familiar face returns to Fenway Park in Roenis Elias. He pitched for Boston in 2016 and 2017. This season, Elias is 2-0, with a 2.41 ERA. He has pitched in 16 games and has 4 saves in as many opportunities.

Another player to keep an eye on is none other than Edwin Encarnacion. He is batting .244 in 127 plate appearances with 12 home runs and 26 RBI’s. Currently, Encarnacion is eight home runs away from reaching the 400 home run mark. He is also seven away from tying Hall of Famer Al Kaline. In his 15 seasons, Encarnacion has played on four teams. He is also a three time All Star, and was a part of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

The Rockies Look To Keep Rolling At Fenway

Yes, the Rockies are coming to Fenway for the first time since 2016. When they last were at Fenway, the Red Sox won the series 2-1. Of course, many Red Sox fans remember when we played the Rockies in 2007. I believe we won a World Series that time?

Anyways, before the Rockies head to Boston, they will play the San Diego Padres at Coors Field in Denver. The Rockies, who are 17-20, look to climb out of the hole that they are in. Of course, they are a young and talented team that has proven themselves over the past few years.

During the off season, third baseman Nolan Arenado made headlines when he signed an eight year contract extension to stay in Denver. The four-time All-Star is continuing to make a name for himself. He is currently batting .322 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI’s. Since making his MLB debut, he has also won six Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Houston, We Have A Problem…

After losing in the AL Championship Series, the Houston Astros have some unfinished business. The last time the Red Sox saw the Astros, it was Game five of the ALCS. The Red Sox won that game, which led them to the World Series. Since then, the Astros have been doing pretty well. They are currently 23-15, and sit in first place in the AL West. They will be playing a series in Detroit before heading to Fenway.

One familiar name on the Houston Astros roster is Wade Miley. Red Sox fans remember Miley from his stint in a Red Sox uniform back in 2015. As a member of the Red Sox, Miley went 11-11 in 32 starts with a 4.46 ERA. So far this season, he is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA in eight games.

Connecticut Red Sox fans look back at George Springer with warmth. The New Britain native and former UCONN Husky is coming back to Fenway Park to face his former teammate, Matt Barnes and the Boston Red Sox. Springer, who is in his sixth season, is batting .301 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI’s. He also has four stolen bases on the season. The 2017 World Series MVP is looking to continue his success in an Astros uniform.

Can The Red Sox Continue Their Success At Fenway Park?

May has been a great month for the Red Sox. After a slow April, they have gone 6-2 in May. The bats have woken up from their deep sleep. Plus, Chris Sale and the rest of the rotation look like they’re on a mission. Granted, there are injuries to key players such as Nathan Eovaldi and David Price. However, guys like Michael Chavis and Marcus Walden are proving their worth.

Let’s hope this May is the start of a giant leap. One that will hopefully lead to another championship run. Keep the faith Red Sox Nation. The boys are back!!

Alex Cora’s Sophomore Season in Boston

As Alex Cora enters his sophomore season in a Red Sox uniform, it’s hard not to point out how he is the fifth manager in Major League Baseball to win a World Series in his first year. Many have tried, and many have failed. The last time such a feat occurred was in 2001, when Bob Brenly was manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The best part of that World Series? Watching the Yankees lose.

With the Red Sox winning their ninth World Series Championship on October 28th, 2018,sophomore season it’s hard not to wonder what this season will bring. Will Cora help this team win back to back championships? Only time can tell. The last time such a feat occurred was from 1998 – 2000, when the New York Yankees won 3 years in a row. Since then, some teams have been close, but none have accomplished it.

From Player to Manager…

When the Red Sox handed out those beautiful World Series rings on Opening Day, Cora’s had two mini trophies on it. One from 2007, and one from 2018. In case people have forgotten, Cora was the utility infielder that Dustin Pedroia looked up to in 2007 while Cora was a member of the Red Sox. Also, he wore number 13 for the Red Sox.

Like many managers in baseball, such as Brad Ausmus and Rocco Baldelli, Alex Cora also spent time on the field, playing for the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers and Nationals. He also was the bench coach when Houston won the World Series in 2017.

So, who was the first Red Sox manager to also be a former player? Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins, who led the Red Sox (known back then as the Boston Americans) to their first World Series back in 1903.

From 1 to 47…

When Alex Cora officially became the Red Sox manager on November 2, 2017, he became the 47th manager in the organization’s history. When you go from top to bottom, Cora is one of a handful of managers who made it to his second year at the helm.

The only manager to make it past 10 years at the helm is Hall of Famer, Joe Cronin. Cronin spent 13 years as a manager for the Red Sox. Cronin also played for the Red Sox from 1935 until 1945. Back then, it was popular for players to also be managers. Cronin, who was a seven time All Star, has his number 4 retired by the Boston Red Sox.

In total, eleven former Red Sox managers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame – Cronin, Collins, Ed Barrow, Lou Boudreaux, Billy Herman, Joe McCarthy, Dick Williams, Hugh Duffy Frank Chance, Bucky Harris and Cy Young. Out of these eleven Hall of Famers, only one has their number retired. In total, two former managers have their number retired by the Red Sox. The first being Cronin, the second is Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008.

Cora’s former Red Sox manager, Terry Francona comes in second in the Red Sox organization in wins. During his eight seasons as a Red Sox manager, “Tito” went 744-552, while winning two titles in Boston.

Can Cora Make It All The Way?

Since the beginning of the season, the Red Sox have been on a bumpy road. As they continue with their homestead against Toronto and Baltimore, one can only wonder what will happen next.

Many fans in Red Sox Nation hope that Cora has some magic up his sleeve when it comes to going back to the postseason. Only time can tell how this season will go.

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.

Baseball Season Preview: Who Plays In 2019 Fall Classic?

The magazine Sports Illustrated, also known as SI, publishes an annual baseball season preview. In addition to the MLB, it produces season previews for several other major sports, such as the NBA, NFL, and FIFA World Cup. The cover athlete of the piece is the feature’s most celebrated achievement, and is supposed to symbolize the value of that player and his/her team heading into that particular season. In some years, the publication’s choice strikes luck. In others, their choice becomes almost laughable by season’s end.

In March 2007, the magazine selected Red Sox’s starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka asBaseball Season their cover athlete. The Japanese right-hander had just signed a $52 million, six-year contract and had not yet pitched in the MLB. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting that year. More importantly, the Red Sox won the World Series. With the 2019 regular season set to begin tomorrow in Tokyo, here is a breakdown of each division’s expectations for 2019, followed by playoff predictions.

AL East – The Red Sox are the two-time reigning division champs. Boston’s outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts were featured on SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2017. The Yankees have two straight seasons of 90-plus wins. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were the centerpiece on the SI‘s Baseball Season Preview last year. The Rays have two straight seasons of 80-plus wins. The Blue Jays should win more games than last year’s 73 with a balanced lineup and better starting pitching depth. The Orioles are in a complete rebuild and should finish close to the bottom of the league. Prediction? Yankees win first division title since 2012 and Red Sox finish second to secure Wild Card berth.

AL Central – The Indians have finished on top of the Central for the last three seasons. Their ace Corey Kluber and former outfielder Michael Brantley were highlighted on SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2015. The Twins have finished three of the past four seasons with at least 78 wins. The Tigers, White Sox, and Royals are all in flux, rebuilding, and are destined to finish at the bottom of the division again. Prediction? With Minnesota adding Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, and Michael Pineda since last season, expect them to be neck and neck with the Indians all the way down to the wire. The Twins will edge out the Indians by a hair.

AL West – This is one of the more underrated divisions in baseball. The Astros have two consecutive 100-win seasons, have played in two consecutive ALCS series, and won the World Series in 2017. The Athletics increased their win total by 22 games last year and made the playoffs as a wild card team. The Mariners won 89 games last season, but missed a postseason berth by eight games. The Angels, who have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, have neither improved nor worsened in the past two years, as their record has stayed locked at 80-82. And the Rangers record has been in decline for three straight seasons. Prediction? Houston finishes the season with their third consecutive division title and 100-win season. The Angels sneak into October baseball for their first playoff appearance since 2014.

Fun fact: the first athlete to appear on the cover of SI‘s Baseball Season Preview was Giants center fielder Willie Mays in 1955.

NL East – The Atlanta Braves surprised nearly everyone last year and won the NL East. It was a down year for the Washington Nationals, as they finished with their worst record since 2011. In opposition, the Phillies exceed expectations by winning 80 games for the first time since 2012. The Mets finished fourth in the division in 2018 and have just two winning seasons in the past ten years. Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, former starter Matt Harvey, and relief pitcher Jeurys Familia were all chosen to represent SI‘s Baseball Season Preview in 2016. The Marlins have nine consecutive losing seasons. Prediction? The Phillies added five All-Star players this off-season: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and David Robertson. That should be enough to win the division and secure their first playoff berth in eight years. Both the Braves and Nationals secure Wild Card berths.

NL Central – This is another division that gets overlooked. The Milwaukee Brewers won 96 wins in 2018 and captured the National League’s best record. They came within one game of a trip to the World Series. The Cubs were a playoff team for the fourth successive season. St. Louis finished with their eleventh winning season in a row, however, missed the postseason for the third straight time. Pittsburgh went 82-79 and missed the playoffs, even after acquiring All-Star starting pitcher Chris Archer at the Trade Deadline. And the Reds finished with less than 70 wins for the fourth go around in a row. Prediction? The Cubbies take back the division and win the NL Central for the third time in four years.

NL West – L.A. has held down the West for six years running. They are also the only team to have made it to the Fall Classic in each of the past two seasons. The Rockies have been sneaky good, making the postseason in both 2017 and 2018. The Diamondbacks begin a new era after trading away six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals. Seems to make sense after Arizona won just a single playoff game since Goldschmidt became an everyday player in 2012. After winning it all in 2010, 2012, and 2014, San Francisco has won just two playoff games since. San Diego came away with arguably the franchise’s best signing this off-season, Manny Machado, but still face an upward climb. They have not made the postseason since 2006. Prediction? Colorado surprises everyone and wins their first ever NL West title since the team’s inception in 1993.

AL Wild Card Game: Angels @ Red Sox

NL Wild Card Game: Nationals @ Braves

ALDS: Red Sox – Astros; Twins – Yankees

NLDS: Nationals – Cubs; Rockies – Phillies

ALCS: Yankees – Astros

NLCS: Phillies – Cubs

World Series: Cubs – Astros