Can the Red Sox turn it around?


After Sunday’s exciting win at Fenway, it seemed like the team was headed in the right direction. They were pitching well and scoring runs, putting together three straight games of at least five runs. Facing Minnesota Twins starter Ricky Nolasco and his 6 ERA in Minnesota, things were about to get rolling weren’t they? First two batters of the game reach on Monday and the Red Sox seem to be on the verge of another big game. We know how the rest of that game turned out. Both runners left on base without scoring. In the bottom of the first, Joe Kelly allowed a double on his first pitch of the day, then a run in the first inning. The roof caved in after a crushing three run homer in the second inning, making it 7-0 after two innings and leaving people to enjoy their family barbecues. This Memorial Day would not see a comeback like last year in Atlanta, in which they overcame a 6-1 deficit to win.

Last night was more of the same. The dreaded first run inning troubles for the Red Sox starter and a 2-0 hole early. The only inning you needed to see to crystallize the Red Sox frustration was that eighth inning. With two outs and no one on, the Red Sox rallied on a hit and a walk. Pablo Sandoval poked a ball up the middle and looked like he had a tying hit but the ball was kept in the infield. Inevitably, Hanley Ramirez was unable to pull the ball, and flew out harmlessly to right field to end the threat. Since his shoulder injury at the end of April, this has been Hanley, unable to pull the ball like during his April power surge (10 homers, 0 since then and 1 RBI which came Monday).

One positive development has been Mike Napoli‘s resurgence over the weekend with four homers, but he cannot do it by himself. It is going to take multiple hitters to drive in runs every day to get this team to win consistently. With a banged up Hanley and an ineffective Ortiz, perhaps it will be Sandoval who can help Napoli wake this sleeping giant of an offense. Calling up Cuban phenom Rusney Castillo was supposed to jumpstart this offense, but after this weekend’s success, that engine has gone quiet again. Three singles in 15 at-bats won’t score runs no matter how spectacular Rusney’s defense.

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After Christian Vazquez was lost for the season, and Ryan Hanigan went down with a broken pinky knuckle on May 1, the team had to go to rookie Blake Swihart as its primary catcher as Sandy Leon is a career back-up. The Red Sox were 12-10 the night Hanigan went down. They are now 21-25. Losing 20 of 32 (since their 9-5 start) is not a fluke. The pitching has improved of late, but the hitting is not coming around.

Much has been made about the weakness of the American League East and that the Red Sox are still in a decent position. If they had simply played .500 since Hanigan went down they would be tied for first. With inconsistent pitching and hitting, can the Red Sox turn it around or will this be another season of frustration in which the calls for Manager John Farrell and General Manager Ben Cherington to find other employment become as loud as the silence coming from the Red Sox bats?