The Boston Red Sox entered Sunday’s game in Toronto with a dissapointing 13-17 record, four games below the .500 mark, and 5.5 games back from the division-leading Yankees. With a team full of new faces entering the 2015 season, the Red Sox seemed to have an extra jump in their step, and showed signs of an exciting season to come.
The 13-17 start has been anything but exciting.
The good news, if there is any to take right now, is that it’s only mid-May, and the Red Sox have plenty of time to climb back into the division race. The bad news? Take your pick: Boston has lost seven of their last eight games entering Sunday, while being outscored by a 37-16 margin. Each loss has put them even farther into the hole, as each one was against a division rival. The Red Sox fired their pitching coach. Their pitching has been awful, and their offense has gone flat.
But it’s only May. Sound familiar?
Think back to last year, when the Red Sox started the season on a less-than-satisfying note. What did we have to say?
It’s only April. It’s only May. That turned into “It’s only June” very quickly. All of a sudden it was already July… already September, and any playoff hopes that had tried to hold a spot in the back of our overly-optimistic minds were nowhere to be found.
Now, here we are, mid-May, 3 games below .500. How can the Red Sox avoid the fate that sucked them in last season?
The team held a players-only meeting following Saturday’s 7-1 loss to Toronto, in which team leaders, including Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, spoke to the team to address the problem at hand, and how to solve it. Only the guys in the clubhouse know exactly what was said behind the closed doors, but I can sum it up with one word.
The Red Sox need to catch some life, jump out of the hole that they’ve dug, and climb back into things before it’s too late. “It’s only May” isn’t going to pass for Red Sox Nation anymore, and the players are well aware of their duties.
"“If we were in first place, would we be saying it was early?” said Mike Napoli, per ESPN. “We want to win now. All these games count. We know what we have to do — we have to start winning and play the game the way we know how and get it done. We know that. And we have some guys in here who will turn it around. Yeah, it’s probably [early], but it’s time to go.”"
Mike Napoli’s stuggles are exactly the type of thing that the Red Sox need to turn around if they hope to make something out of a season that’s beginning to slip away. His three run blast on Sunday was enough to put the Red Sox over the edge, with a 6-3 victory in Toronto.
Equally important is the ability to score first. In games that the Sox have put up the first run, they’re 9-2. After falling behind, they’re 5-15. The proof is there.
"“What it boils down to, when we’re able to score first, our record clearly indicates we’re a successful team,” said manager John Farrell, per ESPN.“That’s the storyline in 30 games so far. When we’re able to keep the opposing offense in check and give ourselves a chance to score first, we’re on the right side of things.”"
Part of this problem has come from the mediocre pitching staff, who has been consistently inconsistent, especially in the early innings. The underwhelming offense is equally to blame. With the guys that the Red Sox have in the line-up; David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox’ offense should be much more intimidating than it has been.
"“There’s a lot of frustration,” Farrell added. “We have to get back to an offense that’s going to be reliant and trusting of one another, not relying on one swing of the bat. Sometimes that’s why you see a popup in an RBI situation or pulling out and rolling over on a ground ball. We did it in the fifth inning. That has to become more the norm than one-dimensional.”"
There’s no need to press the panic button quite yet, and we’re certainly not at self-destruct mode either.
But it’s time to take hold of the situation, and turn things around.
It”s time to start winning.