The last two days in England were an advertisement for baseball, all right. I just don’t have the slightest idea what it said or what it sold.
“This great American jamboree finished in a manner approved by PT Barnum,” wrote The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes of Boston’s final four runs in Sunday’s 12-8 loss, “and left the crowd wanting more.”
“It’s the way the Americans do sports. The way they have the spectator in mind,” one British fan told the Associated Press during Saturday’s 17-13 opener. “You know you’re sitting there and the man comes around with your beer and your hot dogs and you can relax and enjoy the game. It’s really very different to what we’re used to. … Great spectacle to come and see.”
“At least you can tell your friends you’ve had a real taste of America,” crowed The Sun about … wait, that was just about the two-foot, three-pound hot dog they served at London Stadium.
Sorry. Trying to bring a little levity this morning. You’re probably mad.
Mad at the ridiculous Xander Bogaerts All-Star snub. (Rafael Devers also has a major beef, but nothing compared to the players choosing Francisco Lindor.)
Mad at nine hours of baseball and an 11-game deficit in the AL East.
Mad at giving up 17 runs one day, 12 runs the next, and both games still feeling winnable given the tying run came up in the eighth inning against Zack Britton in each.
Britton got two groundouts. Alex Cora got angry.
“It’s not a lack of effort. I think it’s lack of execution. It’s disappointing,” he said. “I know where we’re at right now. We have a long ways to go. We have a long ways to go. … We know we can be better. We know we have a great team.
“But we need to stop talking about it and we need to start doing it.”
Hours earlier, owner John Henry got about as angry sounding as John Henry gets, making clear to WEEI.com that what we see is about what we’re going to get.
“We’re already over budget and we were substantially over our budget last year and this year. We’re not going to be looking to add a lot of payroll,” he said. “And it’s hard to imagine fielding a better team. If we play up to our capabilities we’ll be fine. That’s the question: Will we?”
New York media institution Mike Lupica certainly wasn’t angry as he danced on the carmine corpse Sunday afternoon, proclaiming on Twitter that, “The myth about the Red Sox relievers is that they’re overworked. The reality is that they’re not very good. So who thought they were good enough for a real title defense?”
I don’t think the first part’s entirely myth, but I think the last part is an easy answer: No one, really. Henry spoke in that WEEI.com interview of coming to the conclusion simply bringing title teams back the next year “maybe isn’t the best thing,” but as it pertains to 2019, his declaration that deadline additions are “not a luxury tax issue, it’s a question of how much money do we want to lose” said much more.
We’ve sung the song before: When this year ends, Porcello’s $21 million, Moreland/Pearce’s $13 million, $13 million of Pablo Sandoval’s deal, $5 million to Eduardo Nunez … the Sox naturally reset. They took their foot off the gas in 2019 because they could. And even after Sunday, they’re still the odds-on favorite for the second wild card.
But now they’re 1-6 against the Yankees, outscored 56-36.
“They are a good team,” said DJ LeMahieu, 7 for 12 on his European excursion. “I think we’re better, but they are a good team.”
The Red Sox have losing records to the Yankees, Cleveland, Houston, and Tampa. When they put it all together, they go into Minnesota and come within a whisker of a sweep. When they don’t, they give up 19 hits one day and two of their core bullpen four — Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes — spark a nine-run inning the next.
They aren’t as bad as these two days would make them seem. They aren’t as good as the Tampa sweep or the Minnesota series would, either.
They are just what the record says they are. They’re 44-40, 22-21 in the last seven weeks, 20-20 at Fenway Park.
You know about the AL-worst 17 blown saves, but the raw numbers really aren’t as bad as you think. The Red Sox bullpen’s squandered 12 potential starter wins handed to it after doing it to Eduardo Rodriguez on Sunday, but they’ve also held the line enough to allow the offense to bail out 12 potential starter losses.
They swing at pitches at a league average rate. The team ERA is 16th. Their wOBA is 17th. They spent a half million dollars to fly to London and .500 seems an apt number to think about, doesn’t it?
These Red Sox lead the league in average, and 84 games is no small sample size.