Thursday, April 23, 2015

15 Games: A Mixed Bag So Far

The first 15 Red Sox games of 2015 have been interesting to say the least.

The Sox are 9-6 and in first in the AL East. The division is very tight, as there is just two games separating top from bottom. They let one get away last night in St. Pete, as Joe Kelly blew a 5-1 lead in the 6th inning. He looked solid for the first five innings, but gave up four straight hits and a walk, and the game was tied at 5. In the next inning, John Farrell brought in Edward Mujica for some unknown reason, and he promptly gave up two runs, including a solo home run, and Tampa Bay went on to a 7-5 victory.

But once again, the Red Sox starters are NOT going deep in the game, and that is a concern. Starters have pitched at least 6 innings only 6 times so far this season, and that is clearly taxing the bullpen. The pen did a terrific job on Tuesday night in the 1-0 win over Tampa Bay, but couldn't get the job done last night.

Last night's game was also the 5th time the Sox have allowed 7 runs or more in a game. They are near the bottom in ERA in the AL right now.

The Sox will sink of swim with the five starters they have now. It's been mixed results so far, especially from Justin Masterson and Wade Miley. They were both solid this week, but both got lit up in their starts last week. Joe Kelly is averaging a strikeout an inning, and shows the stuff he can be a top-of-the-rotation guy. Rick Porcello has been bitten by the home run ball too much in the early going. And who knows which Clay Buchholz will show up on a given night.

I've been impressed with the Red Sox ability to make the opposition pay for their mistakes on defense so far. They lead MLB with 19 runs scored on unearned runs, and the opposition has made 22 errors against them so far. (The Sox won the 1-0 game on Tuesday after Mookie Betts slid hard into second and a DP throw was thrown away allowing Ryan Hanigan to score.) They are an opportunistic team so far.

And they haven't had a runner thrown out stealing yet this season, having gone 10-for-10 on the bases so far, the first time they have ever accomplished that feat.

In the 1-0 win on Tuesday, it was the first time since April 2005 the Sox won a 1-0 game on an unearned run. I remember the last time well, as I saw it live. It was the only time I have seen at a game a Camden Yards in Baltimore. And Matt Clement pitched eight scoreless innings that night for the win. Remember him? (My thanks to Allan at The Joy of Sox for the last two Red Sox factoids.)

There's a lot to like so far in this Red Sox season, and some things to be concerned about. It's a long year, so sit back and enjoy it.

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