2019 Red Sox Week in Review: 4/7-4/13

The Red Sox stumbled and bumbled their way through the first ten days of the season and ended the previous week with a dismal 2-8 record. With the end of the brutal season-opening road trip and then their first home games of the season in this third week of the season, would the Sox finally get back to the brand of winning baseball they played last season? Would the team finally turn the page on 2018 after getting their rings and unveiling the 2018 championship banner in their home opener? Will playing in front of the home crowd at Fenway Park be the thing to cure what ails them? These are all questions I had heading into this week and as you'll see, the results continued to be...mixed, at best.

(4/7 at Arizona Diamondbacks): A classic "bullpen game" since Hector Velazquez got the spot start. Combined with his cohorts in the bullpen, the relievers delivered one of the better pitching performances for the team thus far. This game was bereft of action apart from the red-hot Mitch Moreland hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning which was the difference maker. It was a 1-0 Red Sox win and helped them avoid the sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks. The miserable season-opening road trip ended with the Sox 3-8 but heading home to face two of the worst teams in the league, it would be the perfect time to make up some ground in the standings, right?

(4/9 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): Well, maybe not. With their home opener, the Red Sox became the last team in Major League Baseball this season to play their first home game, a ridiculous travesty that the league should be ashamed of. The reigning champions and that's how they spent the first two weeks of the season? In any event, the prevailing wisdom across Red Sox Nation was that the return home would rejuvenate the team and that the road trip would soon be a distant memory. Instead, after they got their rings, unfurled their championship banner, and honored the fellow 2018 champion Patriots, the Sox fell flat on their faces in front of a home crowd that started leaving in the sixth inning. Chris Sale got the start and once again looked like a shell of himself, throwing erratically with decreased velocity and control issues. The low point came when Lourdes Gurriel stole home to cap off a Blue Jays rally that gave them a 5-2 lead. Not even Moreland's power surge (another homer in this one) could help. It was surreal to hear the boos rain down on the team, but they were unquestionably earned as the Sox stumbled badly and lost this one 7-5.

(4/11 vs. Toronto Blue Jays): After a day off, the two teams finished off this short two game series with what looked like another crushing defeat early. Nathan Eovaldi continued his terrible 2019 by giving up an early three-run home run to Justin Smoak in the third inning. He gave up a two-run shot to Rowdy Tellez later in the inning and in the blink of an eye, the Sox were in a 5-0 hole. It was a miserable start to the game but the Sox fought back led by another Moreland home run and Pedroia's first RBI in forever to cut the deficit to 5-3. The Sox crept closer but then gave up a late run to Toronto which made it 6-5. In the bottom of the ninth, though, Moreland tied the game when he doubled to drive Mookie Betts in before Rafael Devers singled in the game-winner. The 7-6 victory was much needed and really exciting, although it would be nice if all of the Sox' wins so far this season weren't comebacks after getting down early in games. Since wins are at a premium this season, though, I suppose beggars can't be choosers.

(4/12 vs. Baltimore Orioles): A four game series with the lowly Orioles seemed to be just what the Sox needed to fatten up their record and get back on track. Andrew Benintendi suddenly rediscovered his power (if only for a game) when he belted his first homer of the season early in the game. The Sox opened up a 3-0 lead and the mercurial Eduardo Rodriguez delivered the best performance by a Boston starter this season over seven shutout innings (and on only 93 pitches!). He earned the first win by a Boston starter this season, which is simultaneously good and pathetic. The Sox tacked on some insurance runs later in the game and it's a good thing they did because Baltimore made a late surge that fell just short. The Sox won 6-4 and wait...what's that? A winning streak? Yes, fans, the Sox had their first winning streak of the season at two games. I know it sounds lame to be excited about it, but the way this season has gone so far, we've got to take what we can get...

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(4/13 vs. Baltimore Orioles): Surely the Red Sox would keep beating up on the Orioles and make it three straight, right? To that I answer: you have been watching the team this season, yes? Just when it seemed like they'd put it all together, they came out and delivered another stinker which reminds you that something is seriously wrong with this team this season. We have a large enough sample size now to confirm that Rick Porcello operates on an even year/odd year cycle and that we should be in for a brutal 2019 from him. He not only got shelled, but he gave up the first hit Chris Davis has gotten since September 2018. Previously 0-58, Davis managed to club THREE hits and FOUR RBI in this game as the Sox were pounded. The final score was 9-5 but that makes it look closer than it really was as the final two Boston runs came during a meaningless ninth inning. In a season rapidly filling up with low points, getting beaten like a drum by a AAAA squad like the Orioles, and allowing Davis to bust out, has to be one of the lowest.  So much for that winning streak.

Quick Hits: It's not just one thing the Red Sox are doing poorly this season; every facet of their game has been bad. The starting pitching has been abysmal with one or two exceptions, the hitting inconsistent, and bullpen mostly solid but erratic, and the defense atrocious. The amount of errors this team is piling up so far this season is unbelievable, especially as they were one of the top defensive teams last year. Only JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and the currently hot Mitch Moreland are hitting well while pretty much everyone else is having terrible starts to the season. The body language and demeanor of the team during and after games continues to be poor and it's clear that it's wearing on them as much as it is on the fans. This next week won't get any easier as they wrap up the Baltimore series before going on the road to face the injured but still dangerous Yankees and the first place Rays. I'm not exaggerating when I say that how they finish this month will make or break the season. It's time to stop talking about what's wrong and put it into action by playing better, period.

5-10 record, 4th in AL East (6 GB the Rays)

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