The weekly article series where we examine the two players who deserve to strut their stuff for the Boston Red Sox. This week — Mookie Betts and David Price.
Now to fully understand what the Red Sox Strut is, it means to have reason to walk with a confident, proud air around you. Some people mistake it for vanity, arrogance, or being pompous. This incorrect assumption is not what we mean. The Strut is about knowing that your deeds showed off your amazing skills to the baseball-loving public.
Since the last week’s Red Sox Strut, the Sox have struggled a bit mostly due to a rough patch for their starting rotation. They’ve now lost four of their five games and find themselves tied for first place in the AL East with the Orioles (one game back in the loss column). The offense has been fine for the most part, but they are letting up way too many runs to keep up with their opponents. These are games that Boston really could have used against the rival Orioles and Blue Jays too. We’ll see if the upcoming road trip to San Francisco and Minnesota can help shake things up for them this upcoming week.
POSITIONAL PLAYER: Mookie Is Magical Again
Baseball is most definitely a game of numbers, but sometimes you have to go against those numbers and trust your gut and your eyes. When you take a look at the box scores for the last five games, you automatically take notice of David Ortiz’ numbers. Most Sox fans are drawn to Big Papi’s stat line anyway, but there is no doubt that he had a great week. He had a least one hit in every game and finished the week going 7-for-16 (.438) with seven RBI and two HR. Ortiz has been locked in all season long and is clearly leading this team with a mission in his final season before retirement.
Still, after Xander Bogaerts couldn’t keep his hitting streak going which would have certainly given him a boost in the run for the Strut honors, this week clearly belonged to Mookie Betts. His three homerun game against Baltimore technically came during the period for last week’s Red Sox Strut, but he added a two homerun game the next night for good measure. He finished the week going 6-for-19 (.316) with five RBI and two HR.
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After a slow start to the season, Betts has been a huge spark at the top of the lineup for Boston. He plays with a ton of energy and is a prototypical leadoff hitter in that he seems to lift the whole team. His base-running is key (he had a stolen base this week) as well as his defense in the outfield. Mookie seems to come to the park with a great attitude every day, has a desire to get better and plays with a ton of heart. In a week where the end results were not great for the Sox, Mr. Betts deserves to Strut his stuff on his way across the country to San Fran.
PITCHER: David Price
It was a tough week for the Red Sox pitching staff. In fact, let’s be honest…it was horrible. They gave up a total of 39 runs in their last five games (almost eight runs per game), including a game in which they gave up 13 runs and a game in which they gave up 12 runs (both against the Orioles). The starting staff was hit all around the park forcing the bullpen to get a ton of work, and the relievers didn’t fare much better.
Joe Kelly was absolutely trounced in his second start since coming off the DL and couldn’t even manage to get through three innings. He gave up seven hits, seven runs and walked three batters before John Farrell and company decided he needed a trip back to Pawtucket to figure things out.
While Rick Porcello was able to go six innings, he didn’t have his best stuff and has clearly taken a step back since he was one of their best pitchers for the first month and a half. He gave up five runs on six hits including three homeruns. Porcello has to find a way to keep the ball down, locate and not give up the long ball.
Steven Wright was the starter in the only game that the Sox were able to win in their last five games, but he didn’t look like Boston’s second best pitcher which is what he basically is at the moment. He only managed to get through five innings giving up three runs on three hits and walked five batters.
Eduardo Rodriguez was very shaky against Toronto in his second start of 2016. He struggled through 5.2 innings giving up five runs on four hits and three walks. He also gave up a whopping four homers which is never going to get the job done. They’ll need E-Rod to improve if this staff is going to get moving in the right direction.
A ton has been asked of the bullpen so far this year, and with the starting pitching being so abysmal, this week was more of the same. Junichi Tazawa, Matt Barnes and Clay Buchholz all had their good moments this week out of the pen, but they also had their rough spots. Koji Uehara had a horrible night against Toronto on the night that David Price started which John Farrell blamed on the pitcher’s execution, not overuse or an injury.
So once again by default, the ace of the staff can Strut … if he finds it appropriate after such an awful week for Red Sox pitching. At least David Price was able to go seven innings and give the bullpen somewhat of a rest. Price took the mound against his former mates and gave up just two earned runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out five batters but did give up a homerun.
So, yes…go ahead and Strut David, but we’re going to need better out of all these pitchers if the Sox are going to continue their success this season. Here’s to hoping that we can award the Strut honors to a pitcher that clearly performs well and actually earns a win in the upcoming weeks.