2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 6/3-6/9

The Red Sox schizophrenic season continued with a series in Kansas City to finish their road trip ahead of a hugely important four game set against Tampa at Fenway Park. After a dismal 2-4 week last week, this upcoming slate of games was set up for the team to get back on track and vault back into contention in the AL East. However, the injury bug started to bite a little harder with JD Martinez joining the ranks of the walking wounded with back spasms that rendered him unavailable for most of this week...and we all know how much this team struggles to score runs when JD isn't in the lineup.

(6/4 at Kansas City Royals): Opening the series against a terrible Royals team, the Red Sox went down early 2-0 and it seemed as though the inconsistency and playing down to the level of their competition would continue. It took until the sixth inning when JD Martinez finally got the Red Sox on the board with an RBI triple. It actually looked like a home run to everybody except the umpires, but it cut the lead to 2-1 and got the Sox on the scoreboard. After chipping away and taking a 3-2 lead, the Sox delivered the killing blow when Eduardo Nunez hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to put a bow on an 8-3 series-opening victory.

(6/5 at Kansas City Royals): After not getting any run support over his last several starts despite pitching exceptionally well, it would be understandable for Chris Sale to be frustrated. If he was, you'd never know it by how he pitched in this one. He was masterful, going the distance and striking out twelve without walking anyone. The Royals got only three hits, all of them in the early innings, and didn't score a run as Sale completely shut them down for nine innings to power the Sox to an 8-0 win. The offense for Boston was provided by the red hot Rafael Devers (three RBI), Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley (three RBI), and Sandy Leon. Andrew Benintendi also had a three-hit night; all of this offense was welcome on a night when JD Martinez and Mookie Betts (who has REALLY been struggling lately) both had 0-fer nights. This one was all about Sale, though...in addition to his great performance, he threw his second immaculate inning (in the eighth) of the season. Not too shabby.

(6/6 at Kansas City Royals): The series finale offered quite the contrast from the night before: a midweek day game pitched by a patchwork collection of relievers trying to keep it close enough for the Sox to win. The start was Ryan Weber's and he was far less impressive than his first two starts, only lasting 1.1 innings while giving up a quick two runs. Mookie finally hit a home run off of a lefty this season which tied the game in the third and after Devers put the Sox up two, the backbreaker came when Christian Vazquez hit what should've been a routine fly ball but ended up with a two-RBI triple after Billy Hamilton horrifically (and comically) misplayed it. The Royals got a couple of runs late in the game but this one was never really in doubt after the Sox took the lead. It added up to a 7-5 win and a series sweep. 

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(6/7 vs. Tampa Bay Rays): The start of a big series and a chance for the Red Sox to pick up as many as four games in the standings over the weekend. Riding a four game winning streak they seemed poised to keep the positive momentum going, but instead they once again failed to show up for a big series. Rick Porcello pitched a dud (allowing Kevin Kiermaier to torch him) and the offense went completely silent and only scored a single run in the bottom of the ninth. It added up to a dispiriting 5-1 loss and set the tone for a lousy weekend of baseball and wasted opportunities.

(6/8 vs. Tampa Bay Rays) (day game): As has been his wont since he became the Red Sox manager, Alex Cora put a really weak lineup out for this first doubleheader game. However, unlike last year when the team could afford to throw the occasional game away, this season they need every win they can get just to stay within striking distance. Predictably, a lineup that had Josh Smith starting, Sam Travis in left field, Eduardo Nunez at second, and Christian Vazquez at DH didn't do much of anything against this talented Rays team. The Red Sox were absolutely shellacked 9-2 and ensured that, in a series where they needed to win at least three of four to make any headway, the best they could now do would be a split.

(6/8 vs. Tampa Bay Rays) (night game): It's inarguable that all season the best Red Sox starter and the only one who has pitched consistently well has been David Price. He's been the definition of what an ace should be and in the nightcap he delivered once again. Price only allowed one run in six innings of work while whiffing ten batters and he even got out of a bases loaded jam unscathed at the end of his outing. Meanwhile the offense actually scored some runs, including the heretofore invisible Mookie Betts who went 2-3 and looked better at the plate than he has in weeks. The 5-1 win was much needed to stop the bleeding and get back in the win column and it's not hyperbole to say that had Price not pitched as well as he did, the Sox would most likely be on the wrong end of a three game losing streak instead.

(6/9 vs. Tampa Bay Rays): After stealing the night game the day before, the Red Sox seemed poised to salvage a split. Even with another incredibly weak lineup (Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers got the day off), Eduardo Rodriguez should have been able to hold his own and keep the Sox in this game. The operative words there were "should have." Instead, he reverted to his bad self as he was tagged for four runs in less than six innings and let the game get away from him in the first inning. The Sox bats were even worse, stranding twenty-two runners and failing to do anything other than score a single run. The 6-1 loss cost them the series and another game in the standings. It was a disgusting and embarrassing way to end the weekend and didn't bode well for the upcoming week. 

Quick Hits: A 4-3 week doesn't look bad on paper and if viewed in a vacuum, it actually appears quite good. However, if you watched the games then you know that it's fool's gold. The series sweep in Kansas City was nice to pad Boston's record with some wins, but let's be honest...the Royals stink. The Sox are supposed to beat bad teams like the Royals (even though they haven't always done so this season) and all they did was take care of business, nothing more. The real disappointment was falling flat on their faces and losing three of four to the Rays. That's been a theme all season: failing to show up for a big series. They did it twice against Houston, against the Yankees, Indians, and once again versus the Rays. This team isn't doing anything right. The offense is erratic and more often than not impotent, the starting pitching is up and down (apart from Price and more recently Sale), and the bullpen stinks. The division is pretty much out of the question...right now the Red Sox have to make sure they can stay within spitting distance of the Wild Card. This upcoming week will be huge for that as a team they're locked in battle for that spot, the Texas Rangers, will come to Fenway Park for four games. With the All Star break a month away, the Red Sox have that much time to figure out if they'll still be in the mix come September or if this is a lost season. I know which direction I think it's trending but I'll reserve my judgment for now until I see what they do the rest of this month.

34-32 record, 3rd in AL East (7 GB the Rays & Yankees)

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