In the 21 games they've played since the end of the seven-game winning streak that temporarily restored some faith about the prospects for this summer, the Red Sox offense has scored an average of three runs per contest -- tallying more than that only six times over that stretch.
An 8-13 record over that stretch verifies how difficult it is to consistently win that way, but so, too, does history. Consider this: Since 1901, only two teams in all of baseball have managed to win 50 percent of the games in which they scored three runs or less. They're the '06 and '07 Cubs.
The game has certainly changed a bit since then, and the best team of the past 20 years when scoring fewer than four runs was the 1995 Braves, who posted a .414 winning percentage in such contests. At this point the current Red Sox would need to play .647 ball -- going 55-30 -- the rest of the way to get to 90 wins and have a realistic shot at a playoff berth, so, suffice it to say, the offense must get better. Quickly.
And to figure out where that needs to begin, let's take a look at who has been most culpable for these recent struggles. For context, it has been 20 days since hitting coach Greg Colbrunn was hospitalized due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage -- the Sox have scored two runs or less in 11 of the 19 subsequent games -- and it has been 10 days since the bats busted out for a season-best 10 runs against the Indians.
(Sorted by plate appearances since June 4; slash lines go AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS.)
Past 10 days: .275/.341/.325/.666, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 5 R
Past 20 days: .309/.349/.370/.719, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 10 R
It's hard to put too much blame on him, given that he continues to put up decent numbers out of the leadoff spot -- but if at the start of the season you'd told a Red Sox fan that Brock Holt would lead the team in plate appearances over a 20-day span in June, they probably would've predicted the team would be 35-42 and fourth in the American League East. It speaks to the state of things a little bit.
Past 10 days: .268/.302/.415/.717, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R
Past 20 days: .240/.289/.373/.662, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R
Pedroia's on-base percentage was .372 last season, and the same from 2007-12. He has not been the same offensive player this season, and particularly in the past few weeks. A sub-.300 OBP from the No. 3 hitter makes it difficult for a lineup to function.
Past 10 days: .289/.325/.474/.799, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R
Past 20 days: .250/.316/.486/.803, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 7 R
The production probably isn't as bad as you might've thought, and without the well-timed power he's displayed lately things might be even worse than they are. Ortiz needs to be better, undoubtedly, but his slice of blame pie is relatively thin.
Past 10 days: .125/.147/.125/.272, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Past 20 days: .121/.169/.182/.351, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R
The speculation is that the defensive switch from shortstop to third base has affected Bogaerts' ability to perform at the plate. Whatever the reason, the Sox should look to alleviate some pressure from the rookie -- as they did earlier in the season, when they batted him nearer to the bottom of the order. Let him find himself there.
Past 10 days: .270/.325/.541/.866, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 5 R
Past 20 days: .310/.375/.552/.927, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R
With Napoli as locked-in as any Red Sox hitter (definitely a relative term, there), how about this for a lineup against Mariners righty Erasmo Ramirez on Tuesday night? Holt, RF; Nava, LF; Napoli, 1B; Ortiz, DH; Pedroia, 2B; Pierzynski, C; Bogaerts, 3B; Drew, SS; Bradley, CF. Mix it up at the top a bit. Why not?
JACKIE BRADLEY JR.
Past 10 days: .179/.258/.214/.472, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
Past 20 days: .216/.298/.275/.573, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R
He's struck out in 20 of 51 at-bats, in exchange for only two extra-base hits and five walks. The Sox keep waiting for something to click, but two months ago today he was hitting .206. Today he's hitting .205, and his OBP has tumbled from .324 to .290. If there's been growth, it has not translated to the numbers.
Past 10 days: .077/.133/.077/.210, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 R
Past 20 days: .160/.185/.220/.405, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R
He's walked only once since June 4, while hitting two sacrifice flies and knocking into four double plays. Throw in a hit-by-pitch, and it means that he's produced 48 outs in 54 plate appearances during that time. Hitting .282 when it started, he's now at .255 for the year.
Past 10 days: .222/.333/.278/.611, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 R
Past 20 days: .341/.420/.409/.829, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R
The switch-hitter was scalding when he returned from Pawtucket, but has cooled since piling up five hits in a two-game span. He's 4-for-18 over the past 10 tilts, though he's still got the team's third-best OBP over that time, so it would make some sense to move him up in the order again.
Past 10 days: .179/.179/.250/.429, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R
Past 20 days: .150/.171/.200/.371, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
The shortstop is in the midst of an 0-for-20 spell after it looked for a few days like he'd found his stroke. Would the Sox offense have been better with Holt at third, Bogaerts at short, and Gomes playing every day over this stretch? It's debatable. But the attack likely wouldn't have been appreciably worse.
Past 10 days: .091/.167/.273/.439, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Past 20 days: .219/.286/.375/.661, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
He's got just one hit in his last 11 games, but it was a triple, so at least he made it count. It's hard to see him sticking over Holt when (if?) Shane Victorino returns, but the infrequency of his participation absolves him of a lot of blame for what's happened.
Past 10 days: .263/.391/.263/.654. 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Past 20 days: .269/.375/.308/.683, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
It's hard to blame Gomes, either. The homers have gone missing, and a June 6 double is his only extra-base hit since a May 25 long ball, but the OBP and quality of at-bat have been good enough.
Past 10 days: .000/.200/.000/.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R
Past 20 days: .160/.250/.200/.450, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R
These are the sort of numbers that can get a player released -- and did. (Although his OPS over the past 20 games is still higher than that of three regulars.)
Past 10 days: .200/.200/.500/.700, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Past 20 days: .200/.273/.450/.723, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
As long as he helps coax the best out of Jon Lester from behind the plate, any offense is merely a bonus. A reduction in strikeouts wouldn't be unwelcome, but he is what he is.