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. 

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(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)

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