Rangers Expose Red Sox Warts

Boston starter Jon Lester

Boston starter Jon Lester

The Boston Red Sox waltzed into Texas this weekend with the best record in baseball.  Sunday afternoon, they limped out of the Ball Park at Arlington like  jilted contestants on “Dancing with the Stars”.  On the heels of losses of 7-0, 5-1 and an aggravating 4-3, this much is evident:  April was kinder to the Red Sox than May has been so far.

Still lots of positives in a 20-11 record, which ties Boston with two other teams for the best record in the major leagues.  But after facing the Rangers, who own the best team earned run average in all of baseball, some troubling trends are beginning to develop.

During April’s success, the Red Sox won games with great starting pitching, a remarkable effort by the bullpen, and surprising consistent hitting up and down the Boston lineup from lead off to the number 9 slot.  That consistency went poof over the past two series.

It seems like it’s been since the Nixon administration since either Stephen Drew or Will Middlebrooks got a hit, especially with RISP.  After the Rangers throttled Boston this weekend, both of their batting averages have dipped below .200.  If we wanted a weak-hitting shortstop, we should be starting Jose Iglesias at half-a-million, not paying Drew

Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

$6-million to hit below the Mendoza line.  Even Dustin Pedroia has not been immune from the slump, as his batting average dipped more than 30 points in the last week alone and the diminutive bearded lawn gnome is still in search of his first home run of the season.  After an absolutely torrid April with 27 RBI’s, Mike Naploli’s worst best friend is now the untimely strikeout.  From behind the plate Jarrod Saltalamachia seems a disinterested participant as a battery-mate.  David Ross seems more engaged and has provided more pop, but at his age, he simply can’t start everyday.  The bright spot in the recent power outage has been the steady play of Big Papi, who again went deep today and now owns a 25-game hitting streak dating back to last year’s final AB.  Ellsbury hasn’t shown much pop and is nowhere near the offensive threat he was in 2011, in a near MVP year, although he does lead the majors in stolen bases.

While Dempster, Lackey and even Lester have managed to get to the 6th inning, their pitch count has often hovered near or above 100 pitches for that point in the game.  Over the long haul that puts extra pressure on the bullpen and with the bicep concerns over Bailey, there is cause for consternation.

This can be a productive offense but we need contributions up and down the lineup.  Perhaps a trip back to the Fens for seven games of home cooking against Minnesota and Toronto, combined with Clay Buchholz on the hill Monday night, might just be the recipe for snapping the Sox out of their current mini-funk which translates into the team’s longest losing streak of the season at 3 games.

Categories: American League Happenings

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