Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Writing Slow Down

For those of you interested in my baseball/Red Sox writing, you may have noticed that I haven't done a new weekly review of their games since mid-July. I've decided to stop doing this for this season due almost solely to the fact that I just don't have the time. Between my very busy and demanding job, lots of things that need to get done around my house, wanting to spend time with my wife and kids and friends, and having four kids playing on six different baseball and softball teams between them (two of which I'm coaching), there just aren't enough hours in the day.

My writing for this blog has also slowed to a crawl mainly because of how busy I am. I have no shortage of ideas and half-written drafts for posts, but I'm at the point in my life where my kids (all between the ages of fourteen and eight) are keeping me the busiest but also where I want to spend as much time with them (and my wife) as I can. So yes, I'll still be writing things and posting them here, but not with the frequency of which I've done so over the last six years. I love writing and blogging, but if it's not adding value to my life (and I don't get paid a cent for any of this), it needs to take a backseat.

With that being said, I am working on another book project that I'll probably announce in the next few months and I've got another one coming down the pipeline after that. I'm still plenty busy with the written word, just not as much on this site. I do hope that those of you who enjoy what I write will keep coming back and checking because I will continue to post stuff here, just not as often as before.

Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Win For Every Stitch - Signed Copies Available Again For a Limited Time!





When I released A Win For Every Stitch in December 2018 I decided to offer signed copies of the book to anyone who wanted one. While the book was and still is available on Amazon, I thought it would be fun for me and my readers to offer a signed copy of the paperback for the same price as what it sells for on Amazon. Several hundred signed copies later I decided to end the promotion in late March once the Red Sox regular season started. The book has continued to sell really well on Amazon and it's gotten nothing but great reviews, but I've been getting messages asking me if I still have signed copies for sale. That was the impetus I needed to offer another run of signed books around the All Star break. So, here are the details...

- Starting today (July 3rd) and running until July 31st), you can purchase a signed paperback copy of A Win For Every Stitch directly from me via the PayPal button below.

- The price is $19.99 (the same price as an unsigned copy on Amazon) and that price INCLUDES shipping anywhere in the USA. I offered international signed copies earlier in the year but the shipping was so expensive that I've decided to keep it just within the USA this time.

- Please allow approximately 1-2 weeks from when you order your book to when you receive it. I need time to get the books from my publisher, sign them, package them, and then ship them. I like to send as many books at one time as I can in order to minimize my trips to the post office and this time frame worked well before.

- Unless you send me a message (either via PayPal or an email) specifying otherwise, I will sign the book to the name on the PayPal order and ship it to that address. If you want me to send it somewhere else or sign it to someone else, send me a message!

If you have any additional questions please feel free to ask me in the comments section below or email me at rockandrollchemist@gmail.com. I know you'll enjoy the book and hopefully it will remind you of how great last season was while we watch the Red Sox struggle through the summer!






Monday, July 22, 2019

2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 7/8-7/21

I'm a week behind due to being incredibly busy with work and finishing up coaching my son's baseball season, but I've still been watching every minute of the Red Sox since they returned from the All Star break. This will be a bonus double version of the weekly review to make up lost ground. The Sox entered the break on a four game winning streak which concluded with a three game sweep of the Tigers, so the hope was that they could carry that momentum forward.

(7/12 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers): For one game at least, they were able to. Rafael Devers struck first with a solo homer and although the Dodgers scored a run, the Sox swelled the lead to 8-1 and gave Eduardo Rodriguez some breathing room. That was enough to secure the win against what is arguably the best team in the league. It may have been E-Rod's best pitched game of the season and it was exactly what Boston needed coming out of the break.

(7/13 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers): Unfortunately, the middle game of the series was more of what we're used to seeing from Boston in 2019: a struggling Chris Sale, an inconsistent offense, and a terrible bullpen. Things were okay until the fifth when Sale imploded and left the team in a 5-1 hole. It's now been over a year since he's won a home start and I can't escape the conclusion that something is seriously wrong with him, whether physically or mentally or both. Over the winter I had wanted them to wait until the All Star break to see where he was before they decided on extending him and this is the exact reason why. The bullpen was no better and the Sox ended up getting demolished 11-2.

(7/14 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers): The hope here was that the Sox could salvage the series finale and take two of three from LA. I had a good feeling with David Price on the mound since he's been the Sox best starter this season, but that feeling didn't last long when he gave up a three-run bomb in the first inning. Boston was losing 4-2 before Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez hit back-to-back solo home runs in the eighth inning to tie the game. The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings but couldn't convert and it cost them when the Dodgers put up a three spot in the twelfth and won 7-4. The game (and series) was there for the taking and the Red Sox, as has been typical in 2019, just couldn't take advantage of it.

(7/15 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): With the Dodgers out of the way, the Sox had a stretch of seven games against the two worst teams in the AL East to fatten up on before they run the gauntlet of fourteen games against the Rays and Yankees to close out the month, a stretch that will absolutely determine the trajectory of their season. Boston jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning punctuated by Michael Chavis' first career grand slam and it looked like they'd set Rick Porcello up to cruise the rest of the game. Instead, he gave up four runs over the next couple of innings to make it 5-4 and the Red Sox offense had to put up another crooked number in order to provide enough of a cushion. They scored five more runs and it's a good thing they did since their pitching surrendered four more runs. Yes, the Sox ended up winning 10-8 but it shouldn't have ever been that close...what a frustrating team this is!

(7/16 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): The Blue Jays decided to flip the script in this game and after weathering Xander Bogaerts' early home run, new acquisition Andrew Cashner gave up five runs in his Red Sox debut. For good measure the bullpen gave up an additional five runs and the Jays returned the favor by blowing out the Red Sox 10-4. This was just one more in a series of games against bad teams all season that the Sox should have won to pad their record; instead they continue to come up small and squander their opportunities. I give up trying to figure out this team.

(7/17 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): Case in point, this game. Eduardo Rodriguez was his typically maddening self and while the Sox outhit the Blue Jays 14-5, they only ended up winning this game 5-4. How does that even happen? It happens when you consistently fail to convert with runners on base while giving up walks and home runs to the other team. This game always felt like the Sox were about to blow it open and yet they never did. They were lucky to escape by the skin of their teeth with a win and earn at least a series split.

(7/18 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): The combination of Chris Sale finally showing up and the Sox giving him run support bore fruit as Boston won the series and the lanky lefty's first home win in 372 days. He fanned twelve batters in six innings of shutout ball while the offense put up five (including a three-run homer from Devers). It was the easiest win of the series and a great way to wrap it up by taking three of four before heading to Baltimore.

This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps me keep this site going to bring you more great content. Thanks and enjoy!

(7/19 at Baltimore Orioles): Maybe it makes me a bad Red Sox fan, but after hearing David Price spew more idiocy this week in reviving the stupid feud he has going on in his own head with Dennis Eckersley, he was absolutely shelled by the woebegone Orioles to the tune of six runs in four innings. It's almost as though he doesn't want Red Sox fans to like him...all that goodwill built up after what he did in the ALCS and World Series last year and he's completely wasted it. I knew it was going to be bad when he gave up a three-run homer to Anthony Santander in the first. Baltimore is well on pace to lose over a hundred games this season but that didn't stop the Red Sox from puking down the fronts of their jerseys and playing down to (or below) the level of their competition. Colten Brewer and Ryan Weber were unsurprisingly awful in relief and the Sox were blown out 11-2...what a disgrace.

(7/20 at Baltimore Orioles): In another role reversal, the Sox did the destruction in this game although it didn't look like it was going to happen early on. Once again they gave Rick Porcello an early 5-0 lead and once again he blew it by giving up five in the following two innings to make it a tie game. The Sox then teed off and ended up scoring seventeen runs (with Jackie Bradley hitting two three-run homers as the big highlight) to win this one going away 17-6. My one reservation with this game was that usually when the Sox score a big number like this, they go quiet in the next game. I always like to see them save some of the offense to spread out, but surely that wouldn't be an issue, right?

(7/21 at Baltimore Orioles): Of course it was. A day after putting up seventeen runs, the Red Sox were nearly no-hit by Asher Wojciechowski who was 0-3 coming into this game. He no-hit the Sox through six innings and only Rafael Devers' double in the seventh prevented it. Meanwhile Cashner was awful in his first start against his former team, giving up five runs including two home runs (a solo homer and a two-run blast) to Trey Mancini. It was another embarrassing loss to a terrible team. And I'm supposed to believe the Sox are going to take care of business against the Rays and Yankees starting this week?! 

Quick Hits: A 5-5 stretch coming out of the break before heading into the most critical two weeks of the season is exactly what the Sox couldn't afford, but then again I've been saying that all season and they've consistently failed to rise to the occasion. It's about the only thing they've done consistently this year. So many things went wrong over these two weeks but it's always the same: when the pitching is good, the hitting is bad or vice versa. The bullpen is always bad and lately, Alex Cora has gotten badly outmanaged in game situations. The longer this season has ground on, it's harder and harder for me to escape the thought that perhaps last season was a flukey lightning-in-a-bottle year the same way 2013 was. The 2018 squad was definitely more talented than the 2013 team, but everything else parallels '13. We're at the point now where the trajectory of the remainder of the Red Sox season comes down to these next two weeks (which also happens to coincide with the July 31st trade deadline). It's going to be interesting and unfortunately, I predict it's going to be ugly. They pretty much need to go at least 10-4 or 11-3 over this stretch in order to really get back in the race, but realistically I'm predicting a 6-8 or 5-9 showing. I hope I'm wrong, but so far this season when I've set my expectations low the Sox have not only not met them but they've gone even lower. I don't see that changing starting this week.

If you love the Red Sox as much as I do, you'll enjoy my book A Win For Every Stitch which chronicles their historic 2018 season from Opening Day to the end of the World Series. It will remind you of how great the team was last year while we figure out why they've been so bad this year. Click below to check it out and read some reviews...every Sox fan will love it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 7/1-7/7

After getting embarrassed in front of an international television audience in London, the Red Sox flew back to the USA with their tails between their legs to finish the first "half" of the season with two road series in Toronto and Detroit. The chance to lick their wounds and pick up some wins against two of the worst teams in the league would normally look good on paper, but given how this season's squad tends to play down to the level of their competition and hasn't always faced adversity head-on, I had no assumptions as the games started.

(7/2 at Toronto Blue Jays): Rafael Devers almost single-handedly carried the team in this game, getting the scoring started in the first inning with a two-run homer and driving in six for the game. Behind strong games from Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Christian Vazquez the Red Sox built up a 10-3 lead and it was a good thing, too, because as has been typical the bullpen gave up a few late runs. The Red Sox still held on to win 10-6, but it really should've have been that close. It was Trevor Kelley, a sidearm pitcher making his major league debut, who allowed those three runs in the ninth and while Boston escaped with the win, I don't think we'll be seeing too much more of Kelley this season (if ever again).

(7/3 at Toronto Blue Jays): Once again, Devers put the Sox on the scoreboard first and Boston took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning before Chris Sale's miserable season continued with another implosion. He gave up a two-run shot to Danny Jansen to tie the game and then another two-run bomb to Brandon Drury in the sixth which made it 5-3 Blue Jays. For good measure (and in keeping with the season-long trend), the bullpen gave up another run in the eighth and the Red Sox dropped this game 6-3. On paper this should have been the easiest one to win, but Sale hasn't been Sale for most of this season and it's hard to win when your starter is giving up home runs all over the place to the tune of five runs in six innings. This series is starting to mirror the one in Boston a couple weeks ago when the Sox took the first game before Toronto took the last two. Hopefully they (Boston) can prevent a repeat from happening by winning tomorrow's finale.

(7/4 at Toronto Blue Jays): For the third game in a row, Devers drove in the first run for the Red Sox with a first inning solo home run. However, this game looked like it was going to get away from Boston when Toronto raced out to a 6-1 lead after four innings. It seemed like my premonition of the Sox dropping another series to the Blue Jays was going to hold true, but Boston exploded for six runs in the sixth inning started off by Bogaerts' RBI single. After RBI from JD Martinez and Jackie Bradley, Michael Chavis clubbed a three-run homer to put the Sox up 7-6. Of course, the bullpen (in this case, Brandon Workman) blew the lead by surrendering the tying run to Eric Sogard in the eighth inning. Unlikely hero Marco Hernandez came to the rescue with a solo home run in the ninth which helped Boston to an 8-7 win and a series victory. It wasn't pretty and it was a lot harder than it should have been, but a win is a win.

This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps me keep this site going to bring you more great content. Thanks and enjoy!

(7/5 at Detroit Tigers): Once again it was Xander and Devers getting things started for the Sox as they drove in the first three runs of the game to give the team a 3-0 lead. Holding an eventual 6-1 lead heading into the sixth inning, the bullpen once again nearly squandered it by allowing four Tigers runs to make it a one-run game. As they've had to do far too many times this season, the offense put up more runs to give them a little cushion. It's a good thing the Sox put up a nine spot, too, because Detroit picked up another run which would have tied the game had Boston not added insurance. Instead, the Sox earned one more in a long line of harder-than-it-should-have-been victories this season and opened the series with a 9-6 win.

(7/6 at Detroit Tigers): A four hour rain delay meant this afternoon tilt didn't start until well past eight o'clock and didn't finish until after midnight, but the Sox hung tough and ground out another win. It was Andrew Benintendi's birthday and he didn't disappoint in going 4-6 and helping the team get out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. Boston raced to a 7-0 lead which seemed like it would be plenty for Rick Porcello, but Rick had a total meltdown in the sixth after allowing five runs. Colten Brewer continued to be terrible in allowing another run and as the Sox clung to a 7-6 lead, it was up to Devers, Eduardo Nunez, and Vazquez to drive in some runs and push the lead to 10-6 which is how it ended.

(7/7 at Detroit Tigers): The final game before the All Star break had the Red Sox best pitcher, David Price, on the mound and he delivered five solid innings in picking up his 150th career win. The Tigers scored first when Nicholas Castellanos hit an RBI double, but after that it was all Red Sox. Vazquez, Xander, and Benintendi all drove in runs to make it 5-1 and JD Martinez knocked a late run in for good measure to make it 6-1. Even the obligatory home run given up by Ryan Brasier in the eighth inning didn't hurt as the Sox finished off the game, series sweep, and first half of the season with a 6-3 win. 

Quick Hits: Granted it was against two of the worst teams in the American League, but the Red Sox finished the last week of the "first half" of the season (really, their first ninety games) by going 5-1. In the process they picked up two games in the standings and are (still) in third place in the AL East, nine games behind the Yankees. They've still got a long, hard climb out of that hole to have a shot at the division (and they're currently two games behind Cleveland for the second Wild Card spot), but there was a lot to be encouraged about in this last week. Most of it had to do with the offense which looks like it has almost everybody clicking at the same time (finally!). The starting pitching is still a bit inconsistent and the bullpen is a disaster, so it will be interesting to see how the Sox come out of the All Star break and what they do (or don't do) at the July 31st trade deadline. There's a stretch at the end of this month and into August that will once-and-for-all determine what the Red Sox do this season: they play home-and-home series against both the Rays and the Yankees between July 22nd and August 4th. If they don't win every one of those series, their shot at the division will most likely be over (if it isn't before then) and they very well may be dead when it comes to the Wild Card, too. Still, let's not get ahead of ourselves...first up after the break will be an interleague series hosting the Dodgers; we'll just go from there.

49-41 record, 3rd in AL East, 9 GB the Yankees

If you love the Red Sox as much as I do, you'll enjoy my book A Win For Every Stitch which chronicles their historic 2018 season from Opening Day to the end of the World Series. It will remind you of how great the team was last year while we figure out why they've been so bad this year. Click below to check it out and read some reviews...every Sox fan will love it!

Monday, July 1, 2019

2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 6/24-6/30

This was a rather short week for the Red Sox: three games at home against the Chicago White Sox to wrap up their homestand and then two days off to travel to London to face the New York Yankees for two "home" games. Last week was disappointing after it started so strongly and the Sox found themselves even further behind the Yankees in the AL East than they were when it started. With two games against their rivals to end this week, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this week could determine whether they still have a shot to win the division. 

(6/24 vs. Chicago White Sox): Facing Lucas Giolito, who has been the best pitcher in the American League to this point in the season, the Red Sox faced a tall task in winning this game. It looked bad when the White Sox jumped all over Eduardo Rodriguez early in the game. By the end of the seventh inning the ChiSox were up 5-3, but the Sox scrapped and fought back to tie it in the eighth and won it when Marco Hernandez beat out an infield single which allowed Andrew Benintendi to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. It was a good way to start the series and nice to see the BoSox tag Giolito for five runs. After the lousy way in which the previous series against Toronto ended, it was good to get a win to start this one off.

(6/25 vs. Chicago White Sox): Game two (which marks the eighty-first game of the season and thus the halfway point) looked to be repeating the pattern of the last series against the Blue Jays where the Red Sox won the first game and then blew the lead in the second game. The Red Sox scored first but the White Sox got to David Price early and by the end of the third inning they were up 3-1. From there, the Red Sox put together several good scoring chances and converted on the way to a 6-3 come from behind win. Rafael Devers was a one-man wrecking crew in this game, going 4-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Xander Bogaerts also had a good night, going 1-3 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored. With Chris Sale ready to go in the series finale tomorrow, everything seems set up for a Red Sox sweep and some really positive momentum heading to London. 

(6/26 vs. Chicago White Sox): Chris Sale on the mound and a chance to sweep the White Sox...a no-brainer, right? That is until you look at the statistics which show that Chris Sale hasn't won a start at Fenway Park since last July; that's right, it's been almost a calendar year since he's won a home start. Unfortunately that streak continued as he was awful in this game. He struck out ten but gave up five runs in six innings. Still, the Red Sox kept fighting back and entered the ninth inning with a 7-6 lead. Once again, though, the bullpen blew a save (for a league-leading sixteenth time...they had eighteen in all of 2018) when Matt Barnes served up a fat pitch that Jose Abreu crushed for a two-run homer and an 8-6 White Sox lead. Yes, the Red Sox won the series, but they should've swept it. 

This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps me keep this site going to bring you more great content. Thanks and enjoy!

(6/29 vs. New York Yankees) (in London): The first "home" game in London was also the sixth time the Sox and Yankees played this season. Boston is 1-4 in those games and needed at least a split if not a sweep to stay within distance of the division lead. Things looked bad when Rick Porcello got rocked for six runs in a third of an inning, but the Sox put up six in the bottom of the first and knocked Yanks starter Masahiro Tanaka after two-thirds of an inning and we had a tie game...for a few innings at least. Because of Porcello's abbreviated start, this unexpectedly became a bullpen game and we all know how awful this Red Sox bullpen is. They proceeded to give up eleven runs to the Yankees over the middle innings and even though Boston put up seven more, it wasn't nearly enough as they lost 17-13. Michael Chavis hitting two three-run homers in this game was a highlight, but otherwise the loss was pretty dispiriting.

(6/30 vs. New York Yankees) (in London): If things were bad in the first "home" game in London, they got even worse in this one. Things looked great when Boston put a four spot up in the bottom of the first to race out to a 4-0 lead. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 5.1 innings and only gave up two runs and the Sox had a 4-2 lead going into the seventh inning when, once again, the bullpen completely failed in every way. They gave up nine runs to the Yankees that inning and all of a sudden, the Sox were down 11-4 and completely out of the game. Boston tacked on four more in the late innings (and the Yankees got one more for good measure) and what looked like a close win turned into another blowout defeat that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated.

Quick Hits: A 2-3 week is exactly what the Red Sox couldn't afford. Worse than that, they completed June going 15-12 for the month and are now a whopping eleven games behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East. The division is most likely all but out of the question now, so the Red Sox need to focus on staying above .500 and contending for one of the Wild Card slots. However, with this atrocious bullpen that will be a tall task. They can't protect leads when they're ahead and they can't keep games close when they're behind. The talent in the pen is terrible (it's an endless parade of no-name nobodies like Josh Smith, Josh Taylor, Mike Shawaryn, and Marcus Walden just to name a handful) and even the guys with marginal talent they have like Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier aren't that good and are incredibly inconsistent. To make matters worse, after the game Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski admitted that only NOW do they realize the bullpen is an issue. Where the hell have these guys been, because the rest of us have been harping on it since December! Owner John Henry flat out said the team won't be adding payroll and the team simply needs to play better to win, so there we are ladies and gentlemen: this trainwreck of underachievement, your 2019 Boston Red Sox. Good times never seemed so good...

44-40 record, 3rd in AL East (11 GB the Yankees)

If you love the Red Sox as much as I do, you'll enjoy my book A Win For Every Stitch which chronicles their historic 2018 season from Opening Day to the end of the World Series. It will remind you of how great the team was last year while we figure out why they've been so bad this year. Click below to check it out and read some reviews...every Sox fan will love it!

Monday, June 24, 2019

2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 6/17-6/23

The Red Sox had a stellar week last week and came into this one on a five-game winning streak. It didn't look like it was going to get any easier with a tough road series in Minnesota against the league-leading Twins. However, after that they had three games at home against a bad Blue Jays team; the hope was that they could take a game or two against the Twins and then sweep Toronto to pick up some more ground or at least keep pace in the AL East. With the midway point of the season fast approaching, I was hopeful we'd finally get a clearer picture of what kind of the team the wildly inconsistent 2019 Red Sox really are.

(6/17 at Minnesota Twins): I'll admit I was very nervous about the erratic Red Sox opening a series against the best team in baseball in their ballpark, but this turned out to be an excellent game. It was a true pitcher's duel between Twins ace Jose Berrios (eight innings) and Rick Porcello (seven innings). The Red Sox prevailed 2-0 in a nail-biter with the only runs provided by JD Martinez' RBI single in the first inning and an insurance run driven in by Xander Bogaerts in the ninth. Colten Brewer reminded us that the Boston bullpen still stinks when he put two on with no outs in the eighth, but he somehow managed to get out of the jam unscathed. A good opening win that ran the Sox winning streak to six games. 

(6/18 at Minnesota Twins): I knew the bullpen was going to cost us another game sooner or later and here it was. In another exciting and low-scoring game that absolutely should've been won by the Red Sox...if only they had a halfway decent bullpen. Rafael Devers drove two runs in (one in the fourth, the other in seventh) and the Sox clung to a 2-1 lead going into the eighth before Brandon Workman gave up the tying home run to Max Kepler. The Sox took the lead again in the thirteenth when Mookie Betts hit a solo homer, but the bullpen AGAIN blew the save (this time it was Hector Velazquez) when Kepler hit a solo shot to tie it. The final disaster for the bullpen was Brian Johnson giving up the game-winning RBI single to Kepler in the seventeenth inning. This may have been the most aggravating loss of the season for the Red Sox...the bullpen blew two saves in the same game which is just comically terrible.

(6/19 at Minnesota Twins): Instead of going for the sweep, the Red Sox entered the final game of the series trying to take two of three and win the series. It looked like they were going to drop the finale and the series when Minnesota took a quick 1-0 lead, but Boston went up 3-1 (although it should've been more...with a chance to blow things open with the bases loaded and one out, the Sox only managed a single run). My fears were confirmed when the Twins tied the game in the fourth, but then the Sox exploded for five runs over the nest few innings and put this game away to win it 9-4.  Eduardo Rodriguez settled down and gave the Sox seven innings, which isn't something he does too often. There was a little bit of bad news when Devers left the game in the fifth inning with a tight hamstring, but hopefully it's not serious and he'll have a day off to rest it before the next game. Taking two of three from the Twins in Minnesota was great, but let's be honest: they totally should've swept this series. 

This post contains affiliate links which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This helps me keep this site going to bring you more great content. Thanks and enjoy!

(6/21 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): After taking two of three from the best team in baseball, this home series against a terrible and offensively-challenged Blue Jays team looked like a prime opportunity to beat up on a bad team. Instead Chris Sale didn't look great and the Sox went down into a 5-1 hole. It took a furious comeback in the late innings to tie the game at five runs apiece and a dramatic two-run homer from Christian Vazquez in the bottom of the tenth to bring Boston back from the brink of defeat to win 7-5. While needing late inning heroics isn't a way to make a living in baseball, it was a reminder of how potent and dangerous this offense can be on any given night and a good way to open up this series.

(6/22 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): Last night's stirring comeback aside, the Red Sox really should have been beating up on this hapless Blue Jays squad. It looked like they were continuing their offensive outburst from the previous game when they raced to a 6-0 lead after four innings, but then the Boston bats went quiet as the bullpen imploded. They allowed eight runs to Toronto including the final two on consecutive bases loaded walks by Ryan Brasier...yes, it was as ugly as it sounds. There was a little bit of drama in the ninth when the Sox scored a run with one out and had the tying run in Xander Bogaerts on second base, but he ended up stranded there and the Blue Jays improbably won 8-7. It was one of the worst losses of the season of the Red Sox (it feels like I've said that an awful lot of time this season so far).

(6/23 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): The Red Sox offense continued to no-show today when they were completely shut down for most of this game. Rick Porcello held the Blue Jays to only two runs until the sixth inning when he gave up three and let the game get away from him. It was 6-0 Toronto until the ninth inning and even then, it was only a throwing error by Jays reliever Joe Biagini that allowed the lone Boston run of the day to score. That was only the second Red Sox run scored over their last fourteen innings while the loss dropped their home record this season under .500. All in all a miserable end to a miserable weekend of games. 

Quick Hits: What started out as such a promising week, with a near-sweep of the Twins on the road ended with the Red Sox dropping two of three at home to a terrible Blue Jays team. A winning week ended up a disappointing 3-3 week and to make matters worse, they also lost 2.5 games in the standings. There was absolutely no excuse to not sweep the Toronto series or at the very least, win two of three. Instead, as they've done far too often this year the Red Sox fell flat on their faces and played down to the level of their competition. The Yankees finally got all of their stars back this past week and have been on a tear...I hate to say "I told you so" to the Red Sox, but I'd been saying all season that the time to make some noise was when the Yankees were decimated by injuries because now the Bronx Bombers are firing on all cylinders and starting to leave the Rays and Red Sox behind in the dust. Between the horrifically bad bullpen and the inconsistent offense, this team is going nowhere as it's currently playing. The coming week only has five games, three at home against the pesky White Sox and two "home" games in London against the Yankees. Boston could very well be ten or more games behind in the standings by next week; if so, you can pretty much write off the division and hope for a Wild Card spot as the best chance to have a shot at playing in October. It's incredible to think of how this exact same team was steamrolling the rest of the American League at this time last year.

42-37 record, 3rd in AL East (8 GB the Yankees)

If you love the Red Sox as much as I do, you'll enjoy my book A Win For Every Stitch which chronicles their historic 2018 season from Opening Day to the end of the World Series. It will remind you of how great the team was last year while we figure out why they've been so bad this year. Click below to check it out and read some reviews...every Sox fan will love it!

Monday, June 17, 2019

2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 6/10-6/16

Coming off of a mediocre 4-3 week and a dispiriting series loss to the Rays, things didn't get any less important for the Red Sox. They were neck and neck with the Texas Rangers for a Wild Card spot as they went back to Fenway Park to host them for four games to kick off the week. It sounds crazy to call a mid-June series critical, but if Boston wanted to keep their postseason hopes alive, they'd need a strong showing against a surprising Texas squad in order to keep pace in the standings.

(6/10 vs. Texas Rangers): It was very important for the Sox to get off to a good start here in this series and Chris Sale did his part in shutting down the Rangers for seven innings. Carrying a 2-1 lead into the ninth, the Red Sox bullpen (this time Matt Barnes) did what they always do and blew the lead in the ninth inning to go down 3-2. Miraculously, Brock Holt tied the game with an RBI in the bottom of the inning; however, later in the inning he ran through a stop sign at third and was easily thrown out at home sending the game into extra innings. There the bullpen botched it again when Ryan Brasier gave up the go-ahead run to Texas and sent the Sox down to a 4-3 defeat. A terrible start to the series and a perfect microcosm of this maddening Red Sox season.

(6/11 vs. Texas Rangers): Everybody was looking for a rebound after the brutal way the Sox lost the night before, but there was little hope when AA call up Darwinzon Hernandez was announced as the starting pitcher. He looked alright in the first but couldn't throw a strike to save his life in the second. Texas took the lead but Boston tied it up at three before the wheels fell off the cart. The new nadir of the season (a phrase I've had to write entirely too many times so far this year) was when Hunter Pence, on bad legs, hit a two-run inside-the-park home run on a ball that Brock Holt horrifically misplayed and then didn't run after. Even worse was Mookie Betts, who should've been backing up the play, showing no hustle in trying to get to the ball. It added up to a disgusting 9-5 loss that made me feel as bad about the Red Sox as I ever have in my life.  

(6/12 vs. Texas Rangers): Hunter Pence gave the Rangers another early lead and it seemed as though the Sox were going to get their doors blown off in this series and fall under .500 on the season, but Andrew Benintendi wasn't going to let that happen. He almost singlehandedly kept the team in this game and heading into the eighth inning the Sox clung to a one-run lead. That was until, you guessed it, the bullpen botched things again. This time Brandon Workman gave up the game-tying single to Elvis Andrus which knotted the score at three. Thankfully, Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez couldn't find the strike zone and after loading the bases with no outs, he walked Mookie Betts to send the winning run to the plate. It was a much-needed 4-3 Red Sox win and while winning via a walk-off walk was kind of lame, Boston needs all the help they can get at this point.

(6/13 vs. Texas Rangers): With David Price pitching in this series finale, I actually felt pretty good about the Red Sox chances. Unfortunately, for as great as he's been this season he just didn't have it in this one, only lasting 1.1 innings and surrendering six runs. Luckily, on this night the offense had his back. After going down into a 6-1 hole, Boston exploded for six unanswered runs, all on home runs, and won this game 7-6 to salvage a series split. It wasn't the prettiest game (and I think there are entirely too many home runs being hit across Major League Baseball), but as I've said before they all look the same in the standings.

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(6/14 at Baltimore Orioles): It was then on to Baltimore for three games against the lowly Orioles. There was no reason for the Sox not to sweep these three games and they got right down to business in the opener. After allowing a Trey Mancini solo homer in the first, Eduardo Rodriguez settled down and the Sox got to work on the O's pitching. They scored thirteen runs, most of them coming on home runs (again, too many although I won't argue with the result) and this one was never in doubt. Even the obligatory late-inning run given up by the bullpen didn't matter as the Sox cruised to an easy 13-2 win.

(6/15 at Baltimore Orioles): Xander Bogaerts broke up a scoreless game in the sixth inning and the Sox built a 3-0 lead which was promptly cut to 3-2 by Baltimore. Led by JD Martinez who has been crushing the ball over the last week, Boston plated another three runs and held on to win this one 6-2. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. Even better, Chris Sale again had a great outing in allowing only two runs while whiffing ten batters. Even accounting for his slow start and the bad luck he's had where the offense hasn't given him any run support (hence his dismal W-L record), he's been phenomenal over the last month and a half.

(6/16 at Baltimore Orioles): Brian Johnson, newly returned from his stint on the injured list, got the ball for the regularly scheduled "bullpen game" start in the rotation. The Sox entered the eighth inning clinging to a 2-1 lead before (stop me if you've heard this one before) the bullpen blew it. Marcus Walden allowed the tying run in on a wild pitch and Travis Lakins surrendered the go-ahead run on an RBI single. It seemed as though the Red Sox would lose the game (and the sweep), but unlikely hero Marco Hernandez tied the game in the ninth with a solo home run to send the game into extra innings. In the tenth the Red Sox exploded for five runs and an 8-3 lead which seemed more than enough. Unfortunately, the bullpen still couldn't make it stick and they (i.e. the terrible Josh Smith) gave up two solo home runs before ending the game. 8-5 Boston for the win and series sweep.

Quick Hits: 5-2 this week is exactly the kind of week the Sox needed to have, although the way those first two games against Texas went it could have (should have?) been even better. Texas is a team the Sox are chasing for the Wild Card right now so the split means they didn't lose any ground, but they didn't gain any either. The sweep of Baltimore was simply taking care of business by beating a bad team they were supposed to beat, nothing more. Still, they head into this coming week with a five-game winning streak and some good momentum. The most promising thing this week was the offense where several guys are getting hot at the right time. Xander has never stopped killing the ball this season, but JD, Jackie Bradley, Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and Brock Holt all swung really good bats over this stretch. If only Mookie Betts could get going, who knows what this offense would look like? The bullpen continues to be a major concern though, continually giving up late runs (the eighth and ninth innings are their Achilles heel)...no lead is safe and no deficit is surmountable when the relief corps enters a game. This coming week starts off tough with three road games in Minnesota against the league-leading Twins which will be a real test of whether this Sox team is finally back or if it's just another minor peak before another valley. After that it's back home for a weekend series hosting the Blue Jays. The Red Sox picked up 1.5 games in the standings this week so another winning week would go a long way toward keeping their slim chances in the division alive.

39-34 record, 3rd in AL East (5.5 GB the Yankees)

If you love the Red Sox as much as I do, you'll enjoy my book A Win For Every Stitch which chronicles their historic 2018 season from Opening Day to the end of the World Series. It will remind you of how great the team was last year while we figure out why they've been so bad this year. Click below to check it out and read some reviews...every Sox fan will love it!