After a great win Friday on a night when the Tampa Bay Rays also lost, it looked like the Red Sox might be poised to make up some ground in the AL Wild Card and AL East races. They’re still long shots, but it was an encouraging start to a critical weekend. Unfortunately it was as good as it would get.
John Lackey and Josh Beckett would turn in lackluster performances, the bats would go silent and this sinking feeling that the 2010 Red Sox just cannot get off the treadmill still lingers. Fortunately, things are far from over for the Sox. The Rays were just swept in Toronto and now news comes that hurlers Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis will have their shoulders examined. Jon Lester takes the mound today in the Bronx. And what’s more, a lot of that sinking feeling fans have right now is due to slumping bats that won’t stay slumping.
Remember when the Sox started 4-9 and nobody was hitting at all? Writers gloated about how an exceedingly strong emphasis on “run prevention” last off-season led to an inept offense. Then do you remember how 50 games later or so the Red Sox had the best offense in baseball? Well check out why the Sox seem to be scuffling so badly at the plate (numbers since the All-Star Break).
AVG OBP SLG BABIP Drew .200 .313 .314 .222 V-Mart .255 .321 .392 .261 Scutaro .250 .297 .385 .267
Key contributors, players with an extended track record of productivity, are slumping at the worst possible time.
This isn’t the whole story, of course. Adrian Beltre continues to go crazy, Ryan Kalish has been a pleasant surprise, and Jed Lowrie has been productive since returning. That’s really about it on the positive side, though. David Ortiz has a sub-.300 on-base since the Break while Jacoby Ellsbury has not yet recorded a hit in 19 plate appearances despite striking out just once. Dustin Pedroia will be rejoining the team before long. Put another way, things will get better for the offense.
At the same time, the starting pitching peripherals remain just fine despite a couple of iffy recent outings from the power pitching trio of Lackey, Beckett and Lester. Things are going to get better, it’s just the Red Sox need to hope it’s sooner rather than later. That might be too tall an order given the schedule over the next week, a road trip that still includes another game in the Bronx, three in Toronto against the scorching Jays and three more in Arlington against the first place Texas Rangers.
At this point, it’s a race against time. Waiting on mean regression doesn’t do much good as the dog days of August wear on.