Red Sox crash back to reality after being swept by the Rays
The Boston Red Sox were white-hot going into this week and now find themselves slipping down the standings with each passing game.
What a difference a week makes. Just a short while ago the Red Sox were coming off of series wins over Tampa Bay and the Yankees and seemed poised to make a run towards October. Boston has now lost four games in a row and has lost all the momentum they had gained. Add in the fact that they chose to not make any moves at the trade deadline and things feel bleak right now.
After a nightmare start to the season, it finally felt like the Red Sox were remembering just how damn good that they are. They won a series in Tampa to climb the Wild Card standings, and then dominated the hated Yankees at Fenway Park to make the AL East a little more interesting. But just as things seemed to be getting better reality came and woke us up from the dream.
Boston lost the final game of the Yankee series as Chris Sale once again failed to rise to the occasion. Then came round-two with the Rays and it didn’t quite go the way that the Red Sox had hoped. Tampa stomped Boston and outscored them 23-14 to cruise to the sweep. And just like that, the carriage has turned back into a pumpkin and the Sox are right back in the hole.
It wasn’t all storm clouds during the series as Xander Bogaerts has continued to just crush the ball at the plate. Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers also had moments where they put the team on their backs. The efforts simply weren’t enough and the glaring holes on the roster, the pitching, once again sunk the ship.
We’ve all known that Boston would live or die with the pitching staff this year as nothing was done to replace the departed Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel. But nothing was done in the offseason, early part of the season, or at the trade deadline. Well, that’s not entirely true, the Red Sox did get Andrew Cashner, who has lost all but one of his starts in a Boston uniform.
Matt Vautour of Masslive.com hit the nail on the head when he said that Boston was neither good enough to buy or bad enough to sell at the deadline. Dave Dombrowski felt this team was good enough to win in the state that it is, and he isn’t wrong. A $240M payroll, which is the highest in the MLB, should get you more wins. Especially when this very team won 108 games last year and went 11-3 in the postseason.
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But when those wins aren’t coming and it’s clear that the pitching staff can’t hold leads then something needs to be done. The offense is there for the Red Sox as they lead in Runs (640), Hits (1091), RBI (609), AVG (.277), and OBP (.347). Boston leads in damn near every major offensive category but still find themselves 10.5 games back in the East and 3.5 in the WC. It’s inexcusable at this point.
After the loss last night Red Sox Nation heard a familiar quote from Alex Cora, the team needs to play better.
"“We don’t like where we’re at,” Cora said. “It seems like right now, the last few days, it wasn’t a great brand of baseball. … We’ve got to be better at home. We’ve got to be better in this division. We’ve got to be better against everybody. And we’re not doing that right now.”"
We’ve heard this all season long, pretty much after every loss. At what point does it just become lip service and not an actual statement, feels like we’re at that point. Going into this 14 game stretch with the Rays and Yankees everyone knew this would make or break the Red Sox season.
Things started well but then the dream ended and it was back to reality. This team is good, we know it and so do they, but something just isn’t clicking in 2019 like it did last season.
There’s still the possibility that the Red Sox find themselves with a Wild Card spot and back into the playoffs. They’re going to need to figure things out and do it now or else this season may be over. It’s clear that neither Tampa or New York are going to slow down any time soon so Boston needs to rise to their level. If they can’t do so, it’s going to be a really long winter and we may see some big changes.