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The MLB season is a grind, one of the most grueling in all of sports. Maybe not physically like the NFL, but the length of the season and number of games played contributes to plenty of adversity teams will inevitably face.
Such a long season causes streaks. Teams get hot, teams get cold. No team can be consistently solid through 162 games. The ebbs and flows of a baseball season can certainly be weathered by the best teams. Eventually, the cream rises to the top when all is said and done.
That being said, the Red Sox are on a five-game losing streak heading into the second of their three-game series against Toronto on Wednesday night. They’ve lost six of their last seven thanks to a series loss against Minnesota and a home sweep by Detroit, a series in which they produced a grand total of four runs, their lowest in a three-game series since 2008.
They are now four games below .500, worst so far this season. They’re fourth in the AL East.
While the offense has hit rock bottom, the pitching hasn’t picked up the slack. The only starter in the Red Sox rotation right now with a winning record is John Lackey at 5-3. Jake Peavy’s ERA has bumped from 2.87 to 4.33 in less than a month. Coming off two solid outings, Felix Dubront gave up a pair of long balls in Tuesday’s loss to Toronto and left early with a shoulder injury. Buccholz takes the mound Wednesday coming off consecutive games in which he’s given up 10 hits.
The one bright spot in the rotation has been Jon Lester. Despite his 4-5 record, his ERA is just 2.67. He’s due for a big contract (something we will explore later this week) and he’s putting up the numbers to back a huge deal. However, he has gotten no run support from his teammates. In his five losses, Boston has put up just five runs combined. It’s very reminiscent of Pedro Martinez in 2000. In 10 starts, Pedro received two or fewer runs of support, yet his ERA was 1.25. It led to a 4-5 record in those starts. One run per game is not going to cut it.
While we thought Boston could have a solid lineup to begin the season, injuries and lack of production have proven it’s a lot more thin than we had imagined. Will Middlebrooks is back on the DL, prompting the Red Sox to reach back out to veteran infielder Stephen Drew, who had rejected a $14.1 million offer to begin the season. After not finding a team, he’s accepted a prorated version of that original offer. Drew will help fill a gap in the lineup, but he’s not known for his bat, and isn’t expected to do much in terms of helping offensive production.
The Red Sox need to make some adjustments while the season is still relatively early. Bringing Drew back was something that needed to be done, but at what cost to team morale? Once Drew is ready he will move to shortstop, kicking out Xander Bogaerts and bumping him back to third. After finding out the news, Bogaerts made two errors Tuesday night. “My heart is always at shortstop,” he said after the game. “I was just feeling so good over there, but they made the decision they had to make.”
It doesn’t sound like he’s happy about the move.
While the team is worry about potential lack of confidence with one of their young stars, it may have to worry about a lack of confidence from their manager.
With the offense struggling mightily, manager John Farrell resorted to bunting against Toronto on Tuesday night while down three runs. Twice. Both times with two on and nobody out. It was a move that eventually backfired as Boston couldn’t produce runs in either inning.
If the Red Sox want to turn this ship around, they need to do it from within. They have the skills and the leadership to do so. Every team has to deal with injuries. Every team has to deal with a losing streak. It’s part of the grind of a 162 game season. The best teams are the ones that don’t let the low points get too low and the high points get too high.
They’ve weathered rough seas before, and I’m sure they can weather it again.
The Yankees and Red Sox have a reputation of playing not only some of the most intense games in baseball, but also some of the longest. Friday night, (and into Sunday morning), certainly did nothing to help that reputation.