Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Barring the intervention of unpredictable April weather that has left its thumb print on the baseball calendar since the dawn of time, Monday marks the last scheduled off day for the Boston Red Sox for two weeks, with a full slate of games (in Chicago, returning to Fenway for the Orioles and Yankees, then over to Toronto) now through April 28. Their record so far stands at 5-8, a mark more frustrating than disappointing.
They’ve been in it most nights and have suffered three one-run losses. Despite their reputation as a comeback team in 2013, the Sox went 21-21 (.500) in one-run games last year. They were also shut out eleven times. While neither of these marks reflect a championship-caliber squad, they do show how many things broke right for the Red Sox in 2013. The new season has seen one inspired comeback win — Wednesday against the Rangers behind David Ortiz‘ eighth inning blast — but mostly, the Sox have been sluggish out of the gate.
The lineup is posting 3.5 runs per game with the starting right fielder, third baseman, and now potentially the second baseman hitting the DL. Make no mistake: injuries will persist throughout the season. They are universal. And while the Sox have a ton of Major League depth in the outfield, the infield situation is less favorable. Last night’s matchup with the Yankees saw Ryan Roberts manning third with Jonathan Herrera at second: career combined batting average: .253.
The Boston infield is still considerably better than New York’s right now (the Yankees deployed a catcher at first base last night and when he got hurt, they moved Carlos Beltran over there for the first time, ever), and I refuse to stoke any Stephen Drew talk; a speedy return for the regulars would add consistency to an offense that banks on contributions up and down the lineup card.
The pitching staff has yielded 4.1 runs per game. Among the starters, Buchholz, Doubront and Lackey have each submitted duds, while Edward Mujica and Burke Badenhop have each been mauled out of the bullpen on one occasion. Lackey’s bad start was due mostly to gopher balls; Buchholz and Doubront are more of a worry for Sox fans as health and consistency, respectively, have troubled each starter over their Major League careers. Mujica has impressed other than the one bad outing, even ascending to closer status as Koji Uehara deals with a bout of shoulder stiffness.
While Milwaukee wasn’t expected to be an early season buzz saw, the Yankees, Rangers and Orioles were all expected to be competitors in 2014. The Sox have had their hands full. And it continues: Chicago and Toronto appear to be “weak” teams on the radar, but they’re both above .500 so far. The AL East is a logjam right now, with the Sox only two games out of a three-way tie for first place (Toronto, Tampa and New York). We’ll see if Boston can right the ship and get back to .500 for the month.
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