U. G. L. Y.
Yeah, it was that ugly over the weekend in Arlington, Texas. Red Sox starting pitchers gave up 12 runs in 14.2 innings, almost a run per inning. The Sox lineup scored just four runs, including being shut out in Game 1.
So what all did that tell us? I’ve got you covered right here, right now.
1) Someone needs to step up behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. I’ve touched on this before, but it bears repeating. Through 31 games, the Red Sox are 11-2 when Lester/Buchholz pitch and 9-9 with the rest of the rotation. Ryan Dempster (2-2) seems to be getting in a groove and John Lackey (1-2) looks more promising with each start. Felix Doubront is becoming a question mark. Despite a solid 3-1 start, he has a 5.67 ERA. This is his second full season in the majors and with the talent he possesses, most of Red Sox Nation had hoped he would have a big year. Doubront looked awful against the Rangers, allowing 6 runs in 3.2 innings and throwing 97 pitches. Lackey was better, but was on the wrong side of a few errors. Of course, nothing will win games if Boston only scores one run in those two games combined.
All that said, the Sox need at least a third starter to produce more wins, one way or another.
2) Started from the bottom … not quite there yet. Boston is tied with Texas and St. Louis for the best record in MLB (20-11), far and away better than last year’s 69-win season. But a breakdown of who those games were against provides an interesting perspective. The Red Sox are 14-2 against teams with a.500 record or worse; 6-9 against teams with a winning record. I looked even more into it and Boston is 5-7 against teams currently in first or second place in their respective divisions; 15-4 against the rest of the league. It’s the proverbial small sample size, sure, but it tells me there is still a ways to go before we consider this team a World Series contender. Playoffs? Sure, they are most certainly in the hunt (albeit very early). But let’s not plan the Duck Boat parade route just yet.
3) Reality check. This somewhat goes along with No. 2 above, but the Red Sox could do nothing better than use this sweep to take a step back, look in the mirror and realize they can’t just show up to the park and win games. When you’re the Red Sox or the Yankees, you always have a target on your back. When you’re the Red Sox and you have the best record in baseball, that target is exponentially bigger. It sounds weird to say, but when you go nine straight series without getting swept, sometimes it’s good to take the spanking and then move on. Sweeps are going to happen, both the good and bad variety. This was just the first bad one, so there is no reason to panic. Some might even think it’s amazing it took this long for Boston to get swept, considering 2012 and the question marks of this season. The Red Sox just need to gather themselves, get comfortable again in their home park, put some Ws on the board and play “Dirty Water” by The Standells.
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