Red Sox clinch losing record at Fenway Park in 2019 season

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up his second home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up his second home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images) /

The latest loss by the Boston Red Sox against the Orioles ensures they will finish the 2019 season with a losing record at Fenway Park.

They couldn’t even beat the Baltimore Orioles. The Boston Red Sox have one last homestand to finish a lost season on a positive note in front of their fans and they opened the series with a loss to one of the worst teams in baseball.

Boston managed only one run on six hits against an Orioles starter who entered the night with an ERA above 5.00 and a bullpen that has been even worse. Their lone run came in the ninth inning, by which point it was too late to stage much of a rally.

The loss dropped the Red Sox to 37-40 at Fenway Park this season with only two games remaining, ensuring they will end the year with a losing home record. Their winning percentage dips a bit more if you count the two “home” games they lost to the New York Yankees in London.

Boston will post a losing home record for the first time since 2014. Oddly enough, that season also followed a World Series championship parade. The difference is that the 2014 club finished at the bottom of the division. That 71-win team played poorly regardless of the venue.

This year’s team isn’t that bad. Sure, we’re all disappointed in the outcome that leaves the Red Sox out of the postseason picture but this year’s team has already banked 83 wins and they can add to that total this weekend. They will be above .500 this season – just not at Fenway.

It’s mystifying how the Red Sox have played poorly at home. Their 46 wins on the road are tied with the division-leading Yankees for the third most in the American League. The reason why they won’t be playing in October is that they failed to defend their home turf.

The offense isn’t the problem, last night’s punchless effort aside. Boston ranks third in the majors in runs scored and batting average at home.

It’s the pitching. It’s obvious that the pitching staff was the Achilles heel of this team but more specifically, it’s how they pitched at home. The Red Sox were a respectable 12th in the majors with a collective 4.53 ERA on the road this season but plummeted to 21st with a 4.83 ERA at home.

Fenway is a hitter-friendly park but it’s not exactly Coors Field. The cozy confines don’t explain this much of a gap in their pitching staff’s home/road splits. It certainly wasn’t an issue last year when Red Sox pitchers had an almost identical ERA at home (3.76)  and on the road (3.75).

Injuries ravaged the starting rotation but that still doesn’t explain this oddity. Chris Sale was healthy through the first half of the season yet didn’t win a game at Fenway until July. How is that even possible?

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Was the bullpen to blame? They cost Sale a few games he should have won but that happens to every starter at times. Boston’s bullpen is middle of the pack with a 4.39 ERA that ranks 16th in the majors. It’s not great but those screaming about how terrible these relievers have been are drastically overreacting.

While we’re at it, stop with the backlash against the bullpen for being among the league-leaders in blown saves. The Oakland A’s lead the majors in blown saves yet managed to secure a Wild Card spot. In fact, five of the top ten teams in blown saves this season are in the playoffs. That includes a Dodgers team with the second-best record in the majors. Los Angeles has 29 blown saves, one fewer than Boston. The Yankees have 28. You can’t blow a save unless you had the lead to begin with. Being on that list isn’t the reason why the Red Sox will miss the playoffs.

Their failure to win at home is what will keep them out of the postseason. This is essentially the same roster that won a major league-high 57 home games last year. The Red Sox always seem to play better at home, as most teams do. Even in 2015 when they finished last in the AL East, Boston still had a winning home record.

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Which tells me that this year’s results are a bit of a fluke. Next year, expect some positive regression to return their winning percentage to normalcy. We saw what this team was capable of last year and they played fine on the road this season. That’s enough reason for optimism that the Red Sox are due for a bounce-back season in 2020.