Is this the part where we’re supposed to feign concern about the dreadful start the Red Sox have put together to the 2014 season with the logical mindset that we’re only but halfway through April?
Sorry. A 5-8 mark might not mean a death knell for the defending World Series champs, but holy Carlos Quintana, enduring this band’s brand of baseball has been on par with sitting through a Kardashian marathon.
When does the fun begin?
The 2014 Red Sox have won two in a row only once this season thus far (April 2-3 in Baltimore), and head into this week’s series in Chicago against the White Sox coming off a deflating series against the Yankees, against whom they dropped three out of four games, and possibly a whole lot more.
"We played tough ballgames," John Farrell said after Sunday’s 3-2 loss, marred by the Red Sox manager’s ejection after an overturned replay call (how’s that working so far?) gave the Yankees what turned out to be the deciding run. "The big hit was a little bit elusive. It's frustrating any time you lose a series, no matter if it's home or road."
Well, the Sox have now lost two of the four series they’ve played, and six out of the seven games played in those series; swept by the Brewers last weekend at Fenway, and kicking off this season’s rivalry against New York with not only lackluster results, but potentially-crippling wounds, as well. Never mind Koji Uehara’s sore shoulder, a matter that left the closer unavailable for the one save opportunity the Sox had all weekend, but doesn’t seem serious enough to land him on the disabled list. There is the matter of Dustin Pedroia’s wrist, sore enough that he headed back to Boston Monday to have it examined at Mass General.
That’s bad. The fact that Pedroia, who’s infamous for downplaying injuries and playing through them, deemed the pain serious enough to alert the Red Sox medical staff? That’s much worse.
If Pedroia did indeed injure the wrist during a play at second on Fenway’s Opening Day, let the record show that he is only 5-36 since April 5, a .139 batting average with a .333 OPS. The second baseman batted .421 with an .895 OPS over the first four games of the season.
The Red Sox infield has had more falling pieces than the Assan Motors’ product line. First it was third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who went to the DL with an injury he suffered by walking or something. Now, Pedroia could very well join him, which would be a blow to a Red Sox offense that hasn’t exactly come out of the gate looking like they’re ready to bash their way back to the division title. Ready for the summer of Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt?
While the potential loss of Pedroia would be the Red Sox’ biggest blow this season, it’s hardly their singular concern. Even with Grady Sizemore frequenting the position, the leadoff spot in the order has been a wasteland of opportunity. Collectively, Sizemore, Pedroia, Daniel Nava, and Jonny Gomes have hit only .208 at the top of the order, and that includes Sizemore’s 2-5 night on Sunday. The Sox have a .613 OPS leading off, better than only the Orioles, Braves, and Reds (a sobering .426)
Boston pitching has allowed 201 total bases over 13 games, most in the AL, yet the staff’s ERA and WHIP are both middle of the pack. Aside from Jon Lester, who has been magnificent, the starting rotation is an enigma. John Lackey’s pumpkin splattered all over the infield at Yankee Stadium on Saturday when he allowed four home runs. Felix Doubront has been a Momma Bear (just good enough), a Papa Bear (just bad enough), or in his estimation, “too perfect.” Jake Peavy (who pitches against his former team Tuesday in Chicago) has the sixth-best starter’s ERA in the AL East (Chris Tillman, Mark Buehrle, Chris Archer, Michael "Pine-Tar" Pineida, and Alex Cobb), but is on par with Lester when it comes to run support (Peavy: 3 runs per start, Lester: 1.67). Clay Buchholz….well, where do we begin?
Two weeks into the season, there’s a fill-in closer, utility men playing third and second base, a dazzling rookie who’s probably going to get sent down once Shane Victorino returns because of a stupid numbers game, a catcher who displays less patience at the plate than Boss Hogg with a bucket of fried chicken, and a dubious replay system that has exaggerated the wounds these Red Sox have already suffered.
It seems like only yesterday the Red Sox were enjoying a sunshine and lollipop-filled spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Not even a month later, the team is an underperforming shell of whatever expectations people may have had for them.
It’s been nothing but a bad dream in the wake of last season’s ecstasy. Pedroia’s outcome could be the first Nyquil drop into nightmare status.
It’s two weeks out of 26, and less than 10 percent of the season has been played to date. But it’s not easy to rationalize this sluggish beginning.
Every corner seemingly has a new development, and every development so far has wrought another headache.
So far, this party sucks.
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