Many Questions Remain for the 8-11 Red Sox

After taking the first 2 games against the Baltimore Orioles, the Sox lost the series finale in extra innings, thanks to their bullpen. Overall, the Sox have come a long way since beginning the season 4-9, but even against the lowly Orioles the Sox struggled at times. The team has been unable to score runs when a starter pitches well and when the offense does score in bunches, the pitching let’s the Sox down. The club is still searching for that balance of defense, offense and pitching that will allow them to have a chance at winning every night.

For those loyal readers, you know I have been jumping on this team for their lack of energy and heart. During this past home-stand we began to see a spark in some of these players and as a result, the team has improved overall. We saw David Ortiz finally hit a home run and have many more quality at-bats and saw Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez show signs their bats are reemerging. The welcome party for Darnell McDonald also invigorated the team for a few games and if he can continue to shine, his success will become contagious.

Clay Buchholz pitched a gem this past week, but as has been the trend with his starts, he got no help from the Sox bats. After being a bit shaky at times, the Sox bullpen combined for a long scoreless streak, which was encouraging until Saturday when they gave up 3 earned runs and Sunday’s collapse when the ‘pen gave up 5 earned runs. If the Sox are going to be successful against teams that have a record better than 3-16, they need to pitch better from start to finish.

For me, the most concerning part of this season has been defensive inconsistency. The Sox brought in Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron to improve the team’s defense and through 19 games, those three players have committed 7 of the team’s 14 errors and Mike Cameron has only played in 11 games due to injury. Beltre and Scutaro have 3 errors a piece and each has made other miscues that easily could have been considered errors (case in point, the 1st inning of Sunday’s game). I understand Beltre’s ability to make the difficult play, but Scutaro has done nothing to give me any confidence that the shortstop curse is being broken.

I purposely didn’t blog much this weekend, because I feel like a broken record this year with this team. They are a long way from being a serious contender and need to play smarter against teams with winning records. With their first series at the Roger’s Centre this year beginning on Monday, it is a perfect opportunity to see if they can be successful against the potent lineup and strong pitching staff of the Toronto Blue Jays.

It is also a big series for the Sox because they are sitting 6 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. The longer the Sox sit a big chunk of games behind the Rays and Yankees, the more difficult it will be for them to surge back and be in contention for one of the likely 2 available paths into the post-season. What I saw over the past week was encouraging, but still a long way from solid baseball.

Tags: Adrian Beltre AL East Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Darnell McDonald David Ortiz Kevin Youkilis Marco Scutaro Mike Cameron New York Yankees Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Victor Martinez

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