The last two games for the Boston Red Sox highlight a trend that has plagued the team all season where they have struggled in win low scoring games.
The Boston Red Sox have been held to a total of one run over their last two games, each of which resulted in a narrow defeat.
You can’t win if you don’t put any runs on the board, but Sunday’s 1-0 loss in Oakland was only the fifth time this season that the Red Sox have been shutout. The highest scoring team in the majors typically doesn’t struggle with run production, but every team hits the occasional drought. When that happens to this Red Sox team they have had a difficult time finding ways to win low scoring affairs.
Boston is 3-24 this season when scoring two runs or less, giving them a miserable .111 winning percentage when the offense fails to produce. When they score at a more reasonable rate of between 3-5 runs the Red Sox are 16-12, giving them a solid .571 winning percentage in those games that eclipses their season rate. When the lineup explodes for 6+ runs this team is nearly unbeatable with a 38-1 record.
Naturally teams are going to win more games when the offense is piling up runs, but their lack of success in low scoring games remains troubling. It’s not as if they are being blown out in most of these games where they fail to score more than a pair of runs.
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The game that wrapped up the series in Oakland was lost on a walk-off double against closer Craig Kimbrel that plated the only run of the game – this after starter Eduardo Rodriguez had taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning. The next day in San Diego the Red Sox were defeated 2-1, with their only run coming from a pinch-hit homer from Chris Young. Boston had the tying run on base in the ninth with the stage set for a dramatic ending when David Ortiz strolled out of the dugout to pinch-hit with two outs, only for Big Papi to end the game with a lazy fly ball to shallow center.
Is there any rhyme or reason to the team’s struggles in low scoring games? Sometimes it’s a matter of coming out on the wrong end up a battle of aces, as was the case when Madison Bumgarner out-dueled David Price in San Francisco back in June. I think it’s fair to say that’s not what happened to them in yesterday’s loss when the Padres sent Edwin Jackson to the mound.
The Red Sox are a run scoring machine at home, but 11 of the 27 games that they have scored two runs or less in have come at Fenway. You would expect those such games to occur more frequently on the road, so there’s nothing shocking about that split. Of the 16 times it has happened on the road, seven of them have been on the west coast in ballparks built to suppress offense. If the environment alone isn’t enough of a factor, the toll of a long road trip out west with a grueling travel schedule should be.
This trend of losing low scoring games is something to keep an eye as we head toward October. Teams that qualify for the postseason typically have solid starting pitching, making it more difficult to rely on the offense to carry the team.
A loaded lineup could help carry Boston to the postseason, but they may not last long if they can’t find ways to win games when their bats cool off.