The Red Sox offense came back to life but couldn’t match the Blue Jays
This Boston Red Sox look like they’ve forgotten how to win baseball games. One day the pitching shows up, but the hitters leave their bats at home. The next day the offense get hot and the pitchers can’t keep anything in the park. It’s truly confounding what’s gotten into this team.
All the pieces are still there of the squad that led the league in wins as recently as July 28. The team hasn’t been bitten by the injury bug and they certainly weren’t sellers at the trade deadline. There’s no rhyme or reason why they suddenly seem incapable of stringing together a couple wins when they seemed to do it with ease over the last four months. They just can’t get the whole team to show up on the same day.
Boston’s loss to Toronto is their 10th in their last 13 games played, but this was one of the most frustrating. When your team scores eight runs all you have to do is not give up nine. Teams give up less than nine runs all the time, it really doesn’t seem like that tall of an order. The eight runs scored by Boston today is the highest tally they’ve posted in a loss since a 10-8 defeat against Toronto in September of last year.
There’s no single person to pin this loss on, but the Red Sox hitters certainly did their part to try and win. The pitchers were a different story.
Expectations are already pretty low for Garrett Richards, and his five innings pitched with three earned runs is about par for the course lately. The bigger surprise was the collective bullpen meltdown. Josh Taylor and Hirokazu Sawamura were having serious trouble locating, Adam Ottavino helped stop the bleeding, but then Matt Barnes gave up a game winning home run for the second time in as many days.
Barnes had given up just four home runs in 35 appearances in 2021, but allowed two bombs in three appearances this weekend. Both homers came against Barnes’ normally reliable four-seamer, which boasts the 6th best xBA in the league at .159 (minimum 50 PA). There must be something in that water up in Toronto as Marcus Semien and George Springer had no problem against it this series.
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Although Boston’s pitching woes ultimately dictated the final score, I don’t want to bury the lead on the the resurgence of the Red Sox offense. The struggling Red Sox hitters were due for a breakout after a run of lackluster games.
Heading into the All-Star break, Boston was top-five in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage, and wins above replacement. In the three weeks since the break, the Red Sox rank 29th out of 30 teams for runs scored and 25th in wins above replacement.
Given that the lineup was comprised of all the same players that had so much success up until this point, something had to give. The floodgates finally broke open on Sunday with the team recording 16 hits, just the 5th time they’ve had that many in a single game this season and the first time since July 1.
Everyone in the Red Sox lineup came out to play today, but the offense was headlined by J.D. Martinez. Since July 22nd, Martinez had recorded just nine hits, only three for extra bases, and driven in only four runs. He nearly matched his entire offensive output for the last three weeks in one game today, going 4-5 with a pair of doubles and 3 RBIs.
Kevin Plawecki shined as well, matching J.D.’s three RBIs and adding a double of his own to go along with two singles and a walk.
The Red Sox pitching may have been a disappoint today, but the offense reminded us that this lineup is still a force to be reckoned with.
Boston’s short-lived reign over the AL East feels like a million years ago. They’re currently four games behind the Rays for the top spot with the Yankees and Blue Jays hot on their heels, back just 2.5 and 3 games of the Red Sox, respectively. Boston’s stretch of games against division opponents continues as they face the Rays, Yankees, and Orioles in their next three series. If they continue this run of form it could prove disastrous for their once bright playoff hopes.
The offense is finally showing signs of life and their pitching had been solid in the first two games of this series. As soon as the two start clicking again this train can get back on the tracks. Until then, we’re holding on for dear life.