I had faith that this year would be different from the Boston Red Sox. What wasn’t to like after a 20-8 start? However, since this improbable beginning, the Red Sox have gone 2-7, they seem to be on the brink of becoming a mediocre team.
Coming off a dominating one-hit performance by Jon Lester, the Red Sox were in prime position to start something they haven’t had in a couple weeks: a winning streak.
They had all of the ingredients necessary. They were playing the team with the second-worst run differential (-55) in MLB, the Toronto Blue Jays. They were pitching two of the best pitchers in the American League, in Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays were throwing out a washed-up Mark Buehrle, followed by minor league call up Chad Jenkins.
Everything was perfectly set up for a three-game sweep.
Unfortunately, the lifeless Red Sox bats went a combined 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It’s hard to win a game when your bats come up so short in critical situations.
Luckily for Boston, Buchholz was back to his normal self on the mound. The right-hander needed only 101 pitches to get through eight innings, and allowed only two earned runs. This should have been enough, and it seemed like it might be in the eighth inning.
With the Red Sox down 2-0, and Buehrle seemingly getting tired, it was a prime opportunity to steal a game from a truly moribund team. After David Ross was walked David Oliver was brought in to face Jacoby Ellsbury, who made them pay with an RBI triple. After Shane Victorino struck out, Dustin Pedroia reached first on an error that scored Ellsbury. He then stole second base.
The score was now tied with no outs and the go ahead run on second against a team that was clearly reeling and ready to be punished. It was the prime opportunity for the bats to come alive against a no-name middle reliever, with their two most productive batters (David Ortiz and Mike Napoli) due up next.
Instead of the momentum-building comeback, Ortiz struck out, Napoli was intentionally walked and Jonny Gomes struck out. Buzz kill.
To make matters worse, the Junichi Tazawa experiment failed in its first test. An Adam Lind-leadoff home run to center field provided the Blue Jays with the game winning run in the ninth.
Baseball is a streaky sport. The Red Sox will score double-digit runs plenty this summer. Unfortunately, a 15-3 win counts as much in the standings as a 3-2 loss. They need to start winning games like this.
Will the Red Sox right the ship, or is this a sign of bigger problems? Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.
Aidan Kearney also writes for his own blog aidanfromworcester.com Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc or on Facebook @ Aidan FromWorcester.