I apologize for being a little behind on this week's recap...the Memorial Day weekend was one of much needed rest and relaxation and I've been having a hard time catching up now that it's over. The Red Sox had some bouncing back to do after the previous week where they dropped two series at home to the Rockies and Astros. A long road trip ate up this entire week with four games in Toronto and three in Houston and sitting only 4.5 games behind the first place Yankees, the opportunity was there to gain some ground in the division...if they could take advantage of it.
(5/20 at Toronto Blue Jays): It was Victoria Day in Canada and so the two teams had an early afternoon start. David Price made his first appearance after being out with a sore elbow and pitched respectably in his five innings of work (it only took him sixty-seven pitches). At the plate, the Sox pounded out sixteen hits to the Jays' three and ended up crushing them in a 12-2 laugher of a game that erased the bad memories of the weekend's series against the Astros. In addition to Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers continuing to heat up, Jackie Bradley hit his first home run of the season which would bode well for the bottom of the order if it means he's about to go on one of his patented hot streaks.
(5/21 at Toronto Blue Jays): How do you follow up a blowout win against a bad team? Why, by letting them destroy you back, of course! Every time it seems as though the Sox are poised for a winning streak this season, they put up a stinker and this game was no exception. Eduardo Rodriguez was terrible and gave up six runs (including three home runs) in five innings while Toronto starter Marcus Stroman shut the Sox down to the tune of a single run over six (even though he walked six and only struck out four!). The simply awful Tyler Thornburg gave up a few more runs in relief as the Jays shellacked Boston 10-3. If they can't take care of business against the bad teams, how can they hope to compete with the Yankees, Astros, or Twins?
(5/22 at Toronto Blue Jays): A back and forth contest, this game was definitely different than the first two of the series. The Sox took a 4-3 lead into the ninth before the bullpen (this time, Marcus Walden) blew the save and allowed the Jays to tie the game. It looked as though Boston pulled it out in the twelfth inning when Mookie Betts hit a solo home run, but once again the bullpen couldn't seal the deal, allowing Rowdy Tellez to tie the game with his own solo shot. Finally, in the top of the thirteenth inning Michael Chavis hit his tenth home run of the season to put the Sox up 6-5. That's how it ended once the relief corps were finally able to close the door on the Jays. This game was much harder than it should have been and continued a season-long and troubling trend of the Sox playing down to the level of their competition.
(5/23 at Toronto Blue Jays): The series finale featured recent call-up Ryan Weber on the mound for Boston and apart from a lone run he allowed in the second inning, he held the Jays scoreless for six innings while the bats did their work. Boston put eight runs on the board and apart from a meaningless solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, Toronto was quiet for the entire game. The resulting series win and taking three of four in Toronto boded very well as the road trip continued on to Houston. After dropping two of three to the Astros at Fenway Park the previous weekend, it looked like the Sox were ripe to return the favor at Minute Maid Park.
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(5/24 at Houston Astros): As they so often have done this season, the Red Sox came up small in one of their biggest games. Houston jumped out to a 4-0 lead on only four hits...and three of those runs can on balls that resulted in outs! The Sox seemingly made a game of it by hitting three solo home runs over the last four innings off the bats of Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Christian Vazquez, but it was too little too late as they went down in defeat 4-3. Beyond the disappointment of a poor showing against a quality opponent after taking three of four in Toronto, it continued the troubling trend of Chris Sale pitching well enough to win but not getting any run support. Now 1-6 on the season, there are least three or four of those starts (including the back to back games where he struck out a combined thirty-one batters) that he should've won but didn't. Baseball is a team game and Sale is doing all he can...it's the rest of the team that's letting him down.
(5/25 at Houston Astros): This game was scoreless into the sixth inning and seemed like it could go either way; unfortunately, it once again went against the Red Sox. Houston plated two in the inning but Andrew Benintendi drove in a run in the seventh to make it 2-1. As has happened so consistently this season, though, Houston got a run back the following inning to take a 3-1 lead. Christian Vazquez tied the game in the top of the ninth innings with a two-RBI single and it seemed like we'd be heading to extra innings, but the bullpen must have missed the memo. Matt Barnes walked the bases in the bottom of the inning and then gave up the game-winning single to Carlos Correa. After all of that effort to tie the game, the Sox went down in yet another crushing defeat, 4-3.
(5/26 at Houston Astros): When I saw that Justin Verlander was starting the series finale (and when I saw that Eduardo Rodriguez was going for the Sox after his last disastrous start), I resigned myself to the Sox getting swept in Houston. Instead, they surprised me by playing their best game of the series. Carlos Correa got the Astros in the scoring column with an RBI single in the first inning, but that would be it for them. Benintendi tied it up in the third with a sacrifice fly and Boston took the lead for good off of Rafael Devers' solo home run in the fourth. They tacked on two more and won this game 4-1 to escape Texas with a win and avoided the sweep. The Red Sox finished the season series against the Astros 2-4 (similar to last season's 3-4 mark), but the most maddening thing about this year's games was that of the four they lost, most of them were there for the taking if the Sox had just made one or more two plays. With their margin for error razor thin after their putrid start to the season, things like that can (and will) come back to haunt you later in the season.
Quick Hits: In going 4-3 this past week, the Red Sox failed to gain any ground on the Yankees and in fact lost two games in the standings. They flat out blew a game against Houston and had a poor showing in one of the games in Toronto, both of which only highlight how inconsistent and undisciplined the team has been in 2019. One week the offense will pound out runs like crazy, and then next they'll struggle to score (as they did this past week). Likewise with the pitching which will veer between horrible and excellent (which it was this past week). Until they can consistently play solid baseball in every phase of the game and put together a winning streak longer than four or five games, they're going to find themselves hovering right around the .500 mark. It's only going to get more difficult this coming week with a home series against the struggling but still talented Indians and four games in New York against the Yankees. The Yankees series in particular may very well make or break the season: it's a prime opportunity to gain some ground on them, but also a chance for New York to bury the Sox in the division. As to which Red Sox team will show up, I have no idea.
28-25 record, 3rd in AL East (6.5 GB the Yankees)
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