Tom Caron just described this as the end to one of the worst road trips in Red Sox history, and said that this is their worst start since 1945, when they started 0-8. That team had a legitimate excuse though. They were missing their four best players–Ted Williams, Bobby Doer, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky–who were busy fighting a little thing called WWII. That substitute team finished 71-83.
The only other Sox teams to start this poorly played in 1927 and 1905. The 1927 team finished 51-103, the 1905 team, 78-71.
Not exactly good company.
There is some good news at the conclusion of this trip though.
First, Adrian Gonzalez has shown signs that he is everything the Red Sox hoped he would be when they traded for him. He’s hitting .304 with 1 hr and 5 RBI. Unfortunately, in 3 of the 6 games he went 0-for.
Second, Jon Lester pitched like a Cy Young candidate today, lowering his ERA to 3.65 by throwing 7 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits, walking 3, and striking out 9.
Third, the 1953 Yankees lost 9 straight games but went on to win the World Series. Six other teams have lost seven straight games and gone on to win the World Series: the 1914 Braves, 1933 Giants, 1983 Orioles, 1990 Reds, 1991 Twins and the 2000 Yankees.
Obviously this is a less than ideal situation, and it will lead to a mass panic attack in Red Sox Nation. This was supposed to be the year the Sox compete for the championship again. This is one thing that has changed in my short fan life-time. With the success in the 00′s, Boston went from being a city that was obsessed with being cursed in every major sport, to thoroughly expecting their teams to get the best talent, and deliver with it.
When Theo went out and got Adrian, Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks, everyone immediately thought the Sox would return to the promised land.
I have been one of the biggest champions of this, and I still think I’m right. But I don’t necessarily think it will be a cake walk.
In my opinion, the Red Sox will win the World Series because in the playoffs, they will have the best hitting, the best defense, the best bullpen, and two excellent starting pitchers. That is a proven recipe for success; one that the Red Sox followed in 2004 and 2007–minus the defense–and many other teams have also followed.
But it might take a little bit of time before we begin to see that team. After all, the Sox have a new left-fielder in Crawford, a new first baseman in Gonzalez, a new catcher in Saltalamacchia, a new third baseman in Youk, and three major players–Youk, Ellsbury, and Pedroia–returning from injury
I was talking to a Red Sox fan from Miami the other day, and he compared this team to the Miami Heat, when they added LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They struggled initially, as they all pushed to find their roles, and figure out how they would all mesh together.
Teamwork is far more important in basketball than baseball, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant in baseball. After all, there is a reason that throughout his career Carl Crawford is a better 2 hitter than 3. Lineup order matters for everyone.
When the Red Sox made these additions, the hot topic everyone wanted to guess at was: what will the lineup be? The options were plentiful, but any guess was good as another because who could know how they’d mesh. Francona didn’t even know, and it’ll take some time to figure that out. When Crawford finds his spot, he will hit better than .174.
The bullpen will be the same way. Francona will need to learn who to pitch in what situation, and what role each reliever will take. These things take time, and when you have a bunch of new guys it takes even longer to form any cohesion.
Many will point to the starting pitching and say that is a problem, but Sox fans know what they’re going to get. If you get 6 innings out of Dice-K or Beckett and they allow 3 or 4 runs you take it, because when the offense gets going, and the bullpen gets straightened out, that will lead to a win more often than not. Lester and Buchholz will have their off days–which their first starts clearly were–but they will pitch like aces. And everyone knows that for every 7 inning 2 run game Lackey pitchers, he’ll throw 5 and allow 9, but he’ll usually be around 7 and allow 4. That’s just the reality of this staff. But when the hitting gets going, that will be ok.
Right now the team batting average is .190. They’ll probably finish around.280.
This team will undoubtedly get better. Let’s just hope it begins to show this weekend against the Yankees.