It hasn’t been a great few days for Boston sports teams and their fans. The Kyrie deal has had a few wrenches thrown into the works, Julian Edelman is out for the entire season with a torn ACL, and the Red Sox suddenly became massive failures, just in time for Player’s Weekend. The Sox are still clinging to first place even after losing four straight, but watching them lose 13-6, 16-3, 7-0, and 2-1 is quite the fall from grace after a very successful second half of the season. Of course, the season isn’t over yet. But here are a few things to take away from an awful weekend:
1. Chris Sale can’t pitch against the Tribe
This one is problematic for a few reasons. For starters, our best starter has an obvious Achilles heel. He struggled against the Indians when he played for the White Sox, and he couldn’t face them this week, either, lasting only three innings and giving up seven hits and six runs. Then there’s the issue of David Price, who is not only ineffective in the postseason but currently on the DL. We need Chris Sale to be in top form, and against Cleveland, he’s been at his worst. Considering the fact that we’ll probably be facing them in the postseason – that is, unless we continue to freefall – we’ll need our ace, not this hot mess we saw the other night.
2. The bullpen is still a massive problem
When Mitch Moreland came in to pitch on Friday night, I thought my MLB app was malfunctioning again, (remember last week, when it told us all that the Red Sox beat themselves in a game?) but no, it was that Farrell had thoroughly exhausted and screwed up his pitchers so much that he had to turn to his first baseman, who pitched better than starting pitcher and last year’s Cy Young Award-winner Rick Porcello. For the second time in his Major League career, Moreland took the mound in his team’s losing game. He pitched a scoreless inning, throwing above 90 mph, maintaining his 0.00 ERA and proving that the rest of the Red Sox need to get their shit together.
3. The DL is looking a little too full
Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr. joined Dustin Pedroia and David Price on the DL, and there’s definitely a different dynamic in the dugout. Eduardo Nuñez is also considered day-to-day with a sprained left wrist and thumb. Farrell said this week that they’re “not looking to wait for the next flow [of players] in here to inject some energy.” but with all due respect Mr. Manager, something better inject some energy into this team. This lasseiz faire approach of letting things play out (pun intended) will not work if the team wants to make it to and through the postseason. From Xander Bogaerts “blaming” the team’s early season struggles on Papi’s absence to Mookie recently dropping a casual, “I guess the playoffs are right around the corner,” I think this team needs to start taking things a little more seriously.
4. The home field advantage is still important, but not essential
For those of you at home not keeping track obsessively, the Red Sox current away record is 33-32, while their record at home is 40-25, the best in the American League. This isn’t to say that Fenway is the magic solution to whatever is currently crippling the Sox, but the numbers speak for themselves. Home field advantage, tens of thousands of Red Sox Nation screaming in the stands, it has made a difference in the past. Of course, the Red Sox did just lose three straight to Baltimore at home, so I’m not really focusing on this issue just yet.
5. Our lineup’s unreliability is finally a liability
All season long, I’ve said that this Red Sox lineup is inconsistent. They’re either hitting very well or not at all. In this Orioles sweep, the total runs scored was an embarrassingly disparate 25-4. When the pitching was at its worst, the offense could not even come close to picking up the slack. Devers or Benintendi having a hot streak while everyone else flounders won’t be enough in the postseason. Ortiz heir-apparent Hanley went 2-for-12 against Cleveland this week and has stranded a team-worst 56 players on base this season, more strands than he has RBIs, in fact. Even Dustin Pedroia, who’s been injured and played twenty fewer games than Hanley has more RBIs and homers. We need consistent hitting, and apparently, multi-million-dollar paychecks aren’t enough to motivate these guys. With the postseason fast approaching, I’m curious, what will be enough?