Every time I turn on a Red Sox game this season, I question why I am doing it to myself. They say love works in mysterious ways and following the 2012 Red Sox is definitely a labor of love. There is just no reason why this team should be in last place in the AL East and every time they look to be making progress they take the proverbial two steps back and have to regroup yet again. Manager Bobby Valentine getting ejected from the game while still sitting in his own dugout yesterday afternoon was the perfect ending to a pathetic home-stand from the Sox, and the best news for the team is that they won’t be back in Boston until next Tuesday night. The change of scenery must improve this team, because quite honestly it can’t get much worse at the moment.
Tuesday, June 5: 8-6 loss to Baltimore Orioles (Salty ties game in 9th, Aceves blows it in 10th)
Wednesday, June 6: 2-1 loss to Orioles (Josh Beckett outdueled by Wei-Yin Chen)
Thursday, June 7: 7-0 win vs. Orioles (Clay Buchholz fires CG 4-hit shutout)
Friday, June 8: 7-4 loss to Washington Nationals (Strasburg 13 K’s through 6 shuts down Sox)
Saturday, June 9: 4-2 loss to Nationals (Gio Gonzalez beats Diasuke Matsuzaka in his return)
Sunday, June 10: 4-3 loss to Nationals (Roger Bernadina RBI double in 9th completes the sweep)
A 1-5 week won’t help you in the standings. In fact, the horrible week dropped the Sox to 29-31 for the season and 6 games back in the AL East. Over the course of any season you are going to run into some tough pitching and some teams on fire at the time that you play them, but great teams overcome that adversity and do whatever it takes to get series wins. This Red Sox team is just not a great team, and at times they play like they’re not even a good team, and as a lifelong fan this is tough to stomach.
Pitching wasn’t the reason that the Sox had such a crappy week. Could they have done better, of course, but for the most part the pitching staff did enough to keep the team in the game and that’s all you can really ask. The only incredible performance this week from a Red Sox starting pitcher was obviously from Clay Buchholz as he got the Sox only win this week with a complete game, 4 hit shutout victory over the Orioles. Buchholz walked only one batter while striking out six in that game, so hopefully some of the momentum from that performance will carry over to this week. I should also mention that from the bullpen Franklin Morales pitched 3 perfect innings, and Andrew Miller and Vicente Padilla each added one perfect inning this week so that was encouraging to see. Josh Beckett had a really good outing on Wednesday, going eight strong innings allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 5, but unfortunately he was a tough luck loser in that game. The most discouraging sign from the Red Sox pitching staff this week was the performance of closer Alfredo Aceves. Aceves made 3 appearances this week and was unable to record a save, and picked up two losses to run his record to 0-4 on the season. He gave up 3 runs in the 4 innings he pitched, and the Sox just simply cannot afford those kinds of performances from the back end of their bullpen. My personal hope is that Daniel Bard, who has been sent down to Pawtucket to work on his mechanics, will return to the bullpen upon his arrival back to Boston, but that may be just a dream.
Sox bats were not alive this week. No individual player had more than one home run (only Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia went yard this week) and Mike Aviles and Salty were the team leaders in RBIs for the week with four each. Only four players with more than 10 at-bats hit .250 or above (Nava .333, Salty .278, Aviles .263, Sweeney .250) so you can see how the production dropped off over previous weeks. David Ortiz’s only RBI came on his solo home run on Sunday so missing the run production from his big bat in the line-up certainly hurt. You have to give credit to the Orioles and Nationals pitchers this week, they made the Sox look like an average (at-best) team and not like one that spent $173 million on payroll this season.
This was a 2 error week for the Red Sox, so I can’t complain about that. Wish the effort in the field could translate to better performances on the mound and in the batter’s box though.
The Week Ahead
The Sox begin a three-game set with the Miami Marlins today in their new ballpark and then head to the Windy City to play three games against Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs over the weekend. The Sox need results this week, so hopefully they can take out some frustrations on these National League clubs. At the very least it will be entertaining to see some of the Sox pitcher have to bat during these interleague games.