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 Rick Porcello.
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.
It was another wild week for the Red Sox. Boston went 4-3 in the seven games since the last Red Sox Strut, and had some solid overall performances along with some horrible showings including a 21-2 debacle of a loss to one of the worst teams in the league in the Angels. Again, the pitching struggled while the offense had plenty of big contributors.
POSITIONAL PLAYER: Mookie Betts
There’s a ton of pressure on the Red Sox offense these days. With an unpredictable pitching staff that can implode in any given inning, the lineup knows they can’t waste any opportunities and need productive at-bats. They scored 5.5 runs per game over the last week that included a game in which they were shut out, two games in which they only scored twice and two games in which they scored at least ten runs.
Travis Shaw has been streaky this season after having a strong start. He made a case to Strut this week with some strong games against the Rays and Angels, but his fielding has been an issue lately on a team that can’t afford to allow unearned runs. He now has twelve errors on the season.
Xander Bogaerts had slowed down a bit as his fatigue has been a story over the last week, and he finally got a day off against the Rays last Tuesday night. David Ortiz on the other hand continues to rake and make a huge impact in his final season.
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Still, the man who earned the right to Strut yet again is none other than Mr. Mookie Betts. Betts has been electric pretty much all season. He had at least one hit in all seven games of the week including a hit in the shutout loss to Tampa in which only four Sox players recorded a hit. His average for the week was a whopping .394 (13-for-33), and he blasted three doubles to go along with his two homeruns, three RBI and five runs scored.
Mookie has become the quintessential table-setter for this team. He finds his way on base at all costs, and is becoming a nightmare for opposing pitchers. His 18 homeruns and 57 RBI prior to the All-Star break are pretty amazing stats for a lead-off guy. When the pundits talk about 5-tool players, Mookie Betts is a great example. He has earned the right to Strut this week, and he could in fact be Strutting until the end of the season.
PITCHER: Rick Porcello
The theme continues for Boston – it was a rough week for their pitching staff. There aren’t a ton of candidates to do anything close to Strutting, but it wasn’t as frightful as last week.
David Price had two starts over the last seven games, and he lost them both. Price lost to his former team when Matt Moore out-pitched him in a shutout. He was only able to go 6.1 innings and gave up four runs on nine hits. While he was looking to bounce back against Texas on Tuesday night, the Rangers had other ideas. He was able to get through eight innings with ten strikeouts, but he also gave up eight hits and three earned runs. Unfortunately, they need Price to be even better. He gave up two runs in the first inning including a homerun to leadoff hitter Shin Soo Choo. Craig Kimbrel looked horrible in this game as well giving up four runs to blow it for Boston.
Clay Buchholz was horrible in his start against the Angels which led to him being sent back to the bullpen once again. Buchholz may not believe it’s the right move, but fans have had enough of him.
Steven Wright earned a win on Friday night, but he wasn’t the same light-out guy he has been in recent weeks. Wright started off hot, but once the rain began falling, the knuckler wasn’t as effective. Neither was his fastball for that matter which led to a grand slam from C.J. Cron. Wright finished the night going five innings with eight hits, four runs and three walks.
Journeyman starter Sean O’Sullivan nearly earned the right to Strut his stuff this week because of his big victory one day after the Red Sox were destroyed by LA 21-2. He only managed to get through five innings, but they were important innings that allowed Boston to get a win.
However, this week we recognize Rick Porcello. Porcello had an awesome first month to the season, but sort of plateaued from mid-May through June. He was able to earn two wins over the course of the week though – one against Tampa in which he only gave up one run and had eight strikeouts and another in which he gave up four runs on twelve hits with just three strikeouts. That second game may not seem too incredible, but when you realize that all four runs came in the first inning, the true importance of that performance comes to light.
Porcello gutted out that victory. With the fans getting squeamish on the Fourth of July afternoon, Porcello was able to get past the vitriol and lock things down for Boston. The Red Sox could use more performance like that from their pitching staff. It’s important for guys to find a way to through adversity when they don’t have their best stuff on the mound. Porcello is still undefeated at Fenway this season and deserves to be recognized for his contributions … so Strut it up Rick!