After losing three in a row at the beginning of last week (including getting swept in the Bronx), the Sox ended last week by winning the first two games in Tampa against the Rays while finally starting to look like the team we all expected them to be. This week was jammed full with seven games which, after the final game in Tamps, marked the beginning of a ten-game homestand. Seeing as the Sox have only played six home games thus far in the season, it was a welcome development. With games against the Tigers, Rays, and Athletics the opportunity was there for Boston to add some wins to their record and pick up more ground in the division.
(4/21 at Tampa Bay Rays): The Sox finished off the series in Tampa with an exciting extra innings 4-3 win to sweep the best team in the division on their home field. It was the first series win for Boston this season and by winning it, the team picked up three full games in the standings and moved out of the AL East basement. David Price pitched another solid game and the team as a whole finished off a series where they finally seemed to put everything together the way we knew they could. With a stretch of ten games in a row at Fenway Park beginning after this one, it seemed as though the team could really take advantage and pick up some steam.
(4/23 vs. Detroit Tigers) (day game): This first game of the series was rained out the day before so it was made up as part of a doubleheader the day after. Chris Sale continued to trend in the right direction and pitch better, but that didn't translate into a win. The Sox took an early lead but squandered it as quickly as they'd gotten it and ended up losing this one 7-4. I had been looking for the team to sweep the day against this middling Tigers team so to say I was disappointed was an understatement. To add insult to injury, my least favorite Red Sox (Heath Hembree) was responsible for a huge part of why they lost this game. Only Xander Bogaerts seemed to do anything to keep the Sox in it, slugging two home runs in a valiant losing effort.
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(4/23 vs. Detroit Tigers) (night game): For reasons known only to himself, Alex Cora managed this game as though the Sox were up ten games in the division instead of in the cellar. It was yet another bullpen game in a young season that's already seen far too many of them. Hector Velazquez pitched alright and certainly didn't put the Sox in a bad position, but as has been their problem this season the offense failed to score enough runs. Rookie call-up Michael Chavis provided some excitement when he belted his first career home run, but otherwise it was a forgettable night as Detroit swept the day with a 4-2 win.
(4/24 vs. Detroit Tigers): Following the pattern he's stuck to for most of his career, Eduardo Rodriguez was due for another good start and he delivered in this game. He was efficient, sharp, and only gave up a single run in his six innings of work. Unfortunately, the bullpen nearly botched this game with Tyler Thornburg almost single-handedly losing it. Luckily, the Sox scored seven runs in the late innings (including three on bases loaded walks!) to earn the 11-4 win. The offensive explosion was nice as far too often this year the once-potent Red Sox offense has been invisible. They continue to have the worst run differential in the league and if they want to have a legitimate shot at righting this ship, that will need to change...and fast.
(4/25 vs. Detroit Tigers): It was Rick Porcello's turn for redemption as he turned in his best start of the season. While he gave up three runs, he did go six innings and kept his walks down (which had been killing him earlier in the season). It got a bit hairy when Porcello gave an early 2-0 lead back by surrendering three runs in the third inning, but Boston came back for five runs to win the game 7-3 and salvage a series split. It was frustrating to not win a series against a mediocre team, but the last two games were encouraging as it looked as though the offense was finally snapping out of their funk and putting some runs up.
(4/27 vs. Tampa Bay Rays): But then again, maybe not. JD Martinez was scratched before this game with back spasms and if you want a reminder of what the Sox offense was like in 2017, here's your reminder. The first game of the series was rained out and will be made up in June as part of a doubleheader, so it was only two games against Tampa and it didn't get off to a good start. David Price pitched really well and only gave up two runs, but the Red Sox only scored one (big surprise, right?). That single run came off a Mookie Betts solo home run in the eighth inning...otherwise the offense was non-existent in this game. I don't get how this team could sweep the red-hot Rays in Tampa last week and then drop a game like this at home. It's utterly baffling, but then again so is this entire season thus far.
(4/29 vs Tampa Bay Rays): Can we all admit now that there's something wrong with Chris Sale and that the team should've waited until at least the All Star break (as I said all winter) before deciding whether or not to extend him? He was lousy once again and dropped his record to 0-5 on the season with this stinker. He did only give up four runs, but he didn't look good at all in doing it and gave up a lot of hard hit balls (one of which ended up in the outfield seats). The Sox battled back a little to make it 4-2, but Hembree (again, it's almost always Hembree) gave up some insurance (aided by some horrible play in the field from Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis) and the Sox were swept as Tampa returned the favor from last week as they went down in this game 5-2. This was game two without JD and the Sox had better hope he'll be back soon because this offense without his bat is ugly.
Quick Hits: After ending last week with some really positive momentum, the Red Sox bumbled their way to a 3-4 record this week and lost the ground they made up in the division. Other than JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, nobody has been hitting consistently well in the lineup and a few players (Jackie Bradley, Steve Pearce, Sandy Leon) are hitting so poorly that it's becoming an anchor for the team. Pitching-wise, Price continued to pitch well while Porcello and Rodriguez look to be getting back to what we all expected. Sale, though, is a mess and whether it's all mental, physical, or a combination of the two is something I don't have an answer for. More aggravating than the play on the field is all of the talking Alex Cora is doing about how "close" the Sox are to finally putting it all together. It's been nothing but excuses and talk, talk, talk since spring training and at this point I'm sick of it. It's time to own this mess and figure out a way to make it right..that's your job, Alex. The Yankees are decimated with injuries and are still winning games. For the Red Sox to be almost ten games out at the end of April is inexcusable and it's only going to get tougher when Oakland visits to wrap up this homestand before they head back on the road. If they continue to tread water like this into the middle of May, it will probably doom the season. It's done being "early" and I'm not exaggerating when I say that how the team plays in these next two to three weeks will determine the outcome of the season.
11-17 record, 4th in AL East (7.5 GB the Rays)
11-17 record, 4th in AL East (7.5 GB the Rays)
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