Friday, May 02, 2014

I Don't Want To Use the "H" Word, But...

OK, I know this isn't a lost season. Just 29 games have been played so far.

But watching Red Sox games these days can be like banging your head against the wall. Especially when they have runners in scoring position in tie or close games.

They gave two games away to Tampa Bay yesterday. Games that could have been one with one clutch hit. Or one deep fly ball. Fenway is supposed to be a fortress for the Red Sox, but they are an abysmal 6-10 at home so far.

The Sox are simply a disaster in clutch situations, hitting .223 so far this year with RISP. They went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position (1-for-8 in Game 1, 3-for-12 in Game 2), and left a whopping 21 men on base (11 in Game 1, 10 in Game 2). Tampa Bay pitching did all they could, especially in Game 2, to hand the Sox a win, walking 10 batters. The Red Sox had doubles to open both the 8th and 9th innings, and left both men at third.

Right now, only two teams in MLB have left more runners on base per game then the Sox: Oakland and Minnesota. Only six have left more men in scoring position than they have. And only Texas have hit into more double plays than the Red Sox have. Ugh.

The Sox dropped Game 1, 2-1, with a controversial call of Dustin Pedroia called out at home on a close relay in the 7th inning, on David Ortiz' double. Replay was simply inconclusive, and you simply couldn't tell if Pedey touched home or not and so the call stands. Naturally I saw Sox fans online screaming to get rid of replay when the call went against them. But folks, replay is here to stay. We are in the "working out the bugs" phase, and MLB is committed to making replay work. But like the NFL, unless there is conclusive evidence to overturn the call, the umps calls will stand. There simply was none on that play.

I'm not so much upset by that. I have no problem with Brian Butterfield sending Pedroia in on that play. The way they have been hitting, it was a chance worth taking. (And Mike Napoli, the next batter, struck out to end the inning.) The Red Sox had plenty of opportunities throughout both games to score runs. They simply blew almost all of them.

The pitching was decent yesterday, certainly good enough to win both games. Jake Peavy had one bad inning, the fourth, when he walked three straight including walking in the winning run. Felix Doubront was shaky, especially giving up three home runs. After getting a 5-2 lead by the sixth, he gave two back on Sean Rodriguez' home run (and not helped by Will Middlebrooks screwing up a pop up).

But even more worrying than that was Koji Uehara giving a bomb of a home run to Yunel Escobar in the ninth. He was shaky last Saturday in Toronto in getting the save. I don't expect him to be perfect, and he says he's fine. But he's 39, and you have to wonder.

The Red Sox are now 13-16, but are fortunate to be in a logjam of a division, as no one has seized control of it. They are only 3 behind New York with a long way to go. But these games are just maddening to watch. Now the hot Oakland A's come in for a weekend series. They lead the AL in ERA and are third in runs scored.

I'm glad I'm not much of a drinker, because this team would have put me into AA by now.

Last year, the Sox were 18-8 in April, the good start they needed that resulted in them making history in October. But the big hits they got last year just don't seem to be coming. One wonders if indeed they are suffering from the "H" word: hangover, from last year's glory.

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