The Red Sox are Back in 2017 Form, and That’s a Huge Problem

The Red Sox dropped yet another game to the Minnesota Twins tonight, and unlike last night, they really had no one to blame but their comatose lineup. Sure, David Price gave up a home run on the first pitch he threw, and another 2-run homer later, but this is a team that scored nine runs on Sunday; three runs is far from insurmountable.

Of the nine games played so far on this road trip, tonight’s loss was the fifth game in which they scored fewer than two runs. They’re now a mediocre 26-15 on the road, and dismal 10-8 overall this month. Worse yet, tonight, Houston Astros, not the Boston Red Sox, became the first team to win 50 games. Anyone else having déjà vu?

The 17-2 Red Sox of April feel like a million years ago, and now it’s beginning to feel a lot like last season. The Red Sox either score a million runs and win by a mile, or they quickly fall behind and accept defeat before the game is even close to being over. The only difference? Last season, the Red Sox had a lot of come-from-behind wins. They also played and won the most extra-inning games in the league, meaning they’d often come alive late in the game and rally. This year, they look defeated as soon as their opponent puts a single run on the board.

This season, they’re 1-20 when trailing in the 8th inning. Translation: they don’t fight back. They may be hitting more than last year (shout out to JD Martinez) – though that isn’t saying much – but that only makes these low-scoring and shutout losses all the more embarrassing. We’ve seen what they can do, so why can’t they do it at least somewhat consistently?

It only proves my point that adding a single bit bat cannot magically fix a lackluster lineup. JD Martinez has been great, with 22 homers and 55 RBIs. And after working with Rafael Devers last weekend, the kid homered twice this week. But Mookie Betts came into tonight’s game having gone 5-for-28 so far on the trip. And the bottom of the lineup is so stress-inducing that I can’t even go into details.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to motivate this team. Alex Cora has literally been bribing Rafael Devers with ice cream and Chipotle. It’s ludicrous that the manager of one of the best franchises in a professional sport even has to resort to such methods in order to get his players to perform. Their paychecks and the fact that they’re living out their dreams of playing professional baseball should be enough to at least get them to look awake during games. Fans aren’t asking or expecting them to win every single game, but at least look like you’re trying, guys.

I’m sure I said it a million times last year, but unfortunately, it seems like I have to say it again this year: the Red Sox are too inconsistent for the postseason. They aren’t just losing to teams like the Astros and Yankees; they’re dropping nearly-sure-thing wins against teams like the Orioles. If Dombrowski can’t finagle some kind of trade and/or Cora can’t get the current guys going, we’ll be lucky to play in the Wild Card game. The season is already nearly halfway done, so I’m no longer jumping the gun by looking that far ahead. With a bullpen that can’t hold it down and a lineup that can’t stop stranding runners, this Red Sox team feels destined to repeat history for the third straight year. And that’s if they can even make it into the postseason. At this juncture, that’s a big ‘If.’

Photo: SI

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