Red Sox: Boston may be struggling but it’s not time for the panic button

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 05: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox breaks a baseball hat over his head against the Detroit Tigers during the top of the fourth inning at Comerica Park on August 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 05: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the Boston Red Sox breaks a baseball hat over his head against the Detroit Tigers during the top of the fourth inning at Comerica Park on August 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The once strong Red Sox are looking weak and lost

I’m not going to lie to you, Red Sox Nation. Things are pretty miserable right now and it’s hard to believe that they’re going to be getting better anytime soon. Had things gone differently in Detroit I’d be starting this with more optimism, but it’s hard to see the light when you’re in the dark. However, I’m not ready to smash the glass and hit that panic button just yet on this Boston squad, and you shouldn’t be either. Things are bad now, but hope is on the horizon and it will get better.

This is a good baseball team, simple as that. I know it, you know it, and they know it, things just aren’t clicking right now. In the first half, Boston’s biggest strengths were their power bats and healthy starting rotation. The bullpen has been solid all year and barring a few bad apples in the bunch, it’s still pretty good. On the other hand, the other two aspects of the game have been hurting this team since they got back from Denver.

Red Sox skipper Alex Cora wasn’t mincing words in how he thought his team performed yesterday in Detroit.

"“I can put it plain and simple for everybody — I don’t think you guys have to ask many questions today,” Cora said. “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t play good defense, we didn’t hit. It wasn’t a good effort today, and where we’re at right now, we have to get better. That’s the bottom line.”"

It feels like on a nightly basis we’re just waiting for our starter to collapse and let the other team skip away with an easy win. They’re not all bad, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and for the most part, Eduardo Rodriguez have been solid this season with Garrett Richards and Martín Pérez dropping the ball. I’m expecting the starting rotation to get a bit of a shakeup within the next week or so as Chris Sale and Tanner Houck are ready to join this group full-time.

This means we’ve likely seen the end of Richards and Pérez in their most recent roles with this club. That’s the solution for the starting rotation and it isn’t even asking much of Sale and Houck. Both can come out of the gates and be mediocre and they’ll instantly give the Red Sox a better chance of winning ballgames. We just have to wait it out just a little bit longer and this rotation will get an instant shot in the arm with those substitutions.

Then we have the lineup, which is colder than a New England winter right now. The bats that once wreaked havoc on the opposition have gone silent and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. But that can’t last forever, right? There’s no way that J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo continue to underperform. For the entire first half of the season, everything we heard was about how good those four guys were and they just need to get back into business.

Let’s not forget, Kyle Schwarber is going to be joining this lineup soon and if he’s healthy that’s some bad news for the rest of the league. Imagine this guy murdering baseballs over the bullpen at Fenway Park, simply awesome. He’ll also provide protection for the other big bats in the order as it’ll be a Russian Roulette for who the opposition wants to pitch to.

Cora was beyond frustrated after yesterday’s beating by the Tigers, even if he won’t outwardly say it, and he told the media exactly what he thinks is going on with the Red Sox.

"“I’m not saying we’re not trying,” Cora said. “Probably we’re trying harder and that’s why it’s not happening. So it’s just a matter of we’re not playing good baseball right now.”"

It really does feel like this team is trying too hard. I know that might sound ridiculous but think about it. Instead of just taking a breath in the batter’s box, being patient, and waiting for a good pitch these guys are swinging at every damn thing coming their way.

What made this lineup so good before was their ability to lay off the junk and wait for those sweet delicious cream puffs right over the plate. Getting back to the basics will allow this squad to get back to crushing teams and doing the damn thing.

I know I’ve spent a majority of my time here talking about the negative, and as I said in the open, it’s hard to not harp on the negative right now. But don’t go hit that panic button, don’t even think about it, hell don’t even look at it. This team is too damn good to give up on with two months left in the season, we just can’t do that.

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This is the very team that was in control of the AL East for the majority of this season and we’re only 1.5 games back, more than doable. The bats will get hot, Sale and Houck will shove, and the bullpen will get back to shutting teams down. You can’t look at this team and think they’re a bunch of bums, they’re far from it, it’s just a matter of getting back to what made them so good before the All-Star break.

We’ve got a three-game stand against the Rays coming up next week and that’s our time to strike. The game plan should be to march up to Toronto, beat up some bluebirds, then head back to Fenway to take the sting out of some Rays. What I want from the Red Sox now is to see them have some emotion.

The body language with this gang right now is absolutely terrible, knock it off. Get mad boys, you’re better than this and you should be pissed off. I’d love for someone to get tossed in Toronto, might be a weird thing to want, but that could be the spark they need. Cora needs to go to the Rogers Centre and order the Lou Pinella Special. Get mad, get rung, fire these guys up and we’ll see ya in Boston, AC.

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This is still one of the better teams in the league and they need to remember that and so do we. Put the panic button away, take a deep breath, and let’s look toward Toronto. These are winnable games and this series in Detroit should light a fire under Boston. Get back on the winning side of things, enjoy your off day, then squish the fish. We have plenty of time left on the calendar to get back on top and get some space in the division, and it all starts this weekend in The Six.