A night after it looked like the Boston Red Sox had turned a corner and snapped another lengthy losing streak, the woeful offense returned to form in a shutout loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. Baltimore starter Bud Norris went the first eight innings in under 100 pitches to secure the victory. Boston’s offense saw only one runner make it past second base all game as the Red Sox dropped to 28-35 in their post-World Series championship season.
Injuries have hurt the Red Sox — no pun intended — and now that Mike Napoli has returned from injury, the lineup that many Sox fans predicted to see all year long is closer than ever. And yet, Boston continues to struggle. It took another dramatic, late-inning home run from David Ortiz to snap a five-game losing streak Sunday night against the Tigers. And after it seemed like maybe, just maybe, this team had turned the corner, the Red sox only mustered three hits off Norris.
Offensively, Brock Holt continues to be the lone constant for the Red Sox’ offense, adding another hit to his impressive totals this season. David Ross and Daniel Nava hit doubles off Norris, but both were stranded on the bases. The 2-5 hitters for Boston, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz and Napoli, went a combined 0-16 with five strikeouts and five men left on base. Ouch.
The Orioles used the long ball to power to victory, as Adam Jones and Ryan Flaherty bashed solo shots and Nick Markakis pounded a two-run homer for the total of the Baltimore offense. Jake Peavy was not terrible for the Red Sox, but he received no offensive support — a consistent trend for Boston this season.
Following tonight’s loss, the Red Sox have the third worst record in the American League, and have scored 250 runs, the fifth-worst in the AL. The pitching rotation has struggled at times, but an average of just over four runs per game will not help the best pitching staff in the game. For a team that scored 57 mores runs than anyone else in in the MLB a year ago, injuries are no longer an excuse.
The Red Sox wear pitchers out and force them to throw a lot of pitches. This year the mentality has altered, as a more aggressive approach has backfired against Boston. Even with the return of Napoli, there is little power beyond the fifth spot in the lineup, and a lack of production from all three outfield spots — excluding Holt these last two games — limits the run production of this team. While there remains a glimmer of hope in the fact that the Red Sox are within a handful of games of the second wildcard position, the chances are fading fast. Without a dramatic improvement in at-bat quality and production with men on base, the Boston Red Sox are in deep trouble before the midway point of the 2014 season.