Red Sox’ offensive futility continues in 3-1 loss
Entering the season, the starting rotation was considered the obvious weak point of this Red Sox team. That dialogue continued through the first few weeks of the year as the starting five ranked among the worst in the league. However, after firing pitching coach Juan Nieves and hiring Carl Willis in his place, the staff has largely sorted out its struggles and is in the midst of a fantastic run.
Unfortunately, while the rotation appears to have resolved its prior woes, the Red Sox have been disappointing in an area that nobody expected: the lineup. Regarded as arguably the best offense in baseball before the season, the Red Sox have been one of the least effective offenses in the league and have not scored more than four runs since May 11th against the A’s.
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That offensive ineffectiveness continued tonight as the Red Sox dropped the series finale 3-1 to the Rangers, resulting in a series loss and a drop to three games below .500 for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox got a more than serviceable start from Clay Buchholz, who appears to have turned a corner since a rocky start to the season. The enigmatic right-hander tossed 7.1 innings tonight, allowing just 3 runs (only 2 of which were earned) on 5 hits and 2 walks while punching out 4 opposing batters.
Those runs all came off the bat of Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who produced a pair of runs in the first on a force out and error. Moreland then added to the Rangers’ lead in the fourth by lifting a solo home run to center, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead at the time.
The Red Sox would retaliate in the bottom of the fourth, starting the inning with a single by Mookie Betts and a double by Dustin Pedroia. However, the promising rally fizzled out after an RBI groundout by David Ortiz and the team was unable to produce another run for the rest of the evening.
This game will go down as yet another chapter in a frustrating season for the Red Sox. With a multitude of high-profile power bats, Boston’s offensive inefficiency has been startling and unusual. It’s tough to explain and one has to imagine that Boston will sort out its offensive troubles, but you never know and, roughly a quarter of the way through the season, it might be time to make some changes.
The Red Sox will begin their next series tomorrow night against the Angels, sending Rick Porcello (4-2, 4.26 ERA) to the hill against Garrett Richards (3-2, 2.29 ERA) in a potential pitchers’ duel.
- Clay Buchholz has been excellent in his last three starts now, counting tonight’s hard-luck loss. In those three starts, he is the owner of a 3.32 ERA and has thrown 21.2 innings. He appears to be parlaying his strong peripherals into strong results and his ERA now sits at a much more respectable 4.58 mark.
- Xander Bogaerts had a nice day at the plate today, reaching base in all three of his appearances. He recorded a pair of singles and a walk and is now hitting .271/.326/.391 on the season while showing significant defensive improvement. He’s still young and fairly raw at the plate, but he is looking like a legitimate major league shortstop both at the plate and in the field.
Buchholz hardly dominated today, but there’s a lot to be said for tossing 7.1 strong innings and keeping the Red Sox in the game despite their offensive struggles. While his 4 strikeouts were quite a bit off his impressive 10.6 K/9 mark entering the game, he was able to pitch well despite the lack of a strikeout pitch and put together a solid performance.
Ogando also didn’t quite dominate in his one inning of work today, allowing a pair of hits and failing to record a strikeout. However, he was able to escape the inning unscathed and continues a strong season in which he currently has a 3.18 ERA out of the Red Sox bullpen.
Bogaerts didn’t do anything overly exciting at the plate today, but it’s hard to argue with reaching base three times in three plate appearances. Despite a lack of his prodigious power this season, he appears to have made legitimate strides in becoming a competent major league hitter and the results are beginning to show.