As the calendar turned to May the Red Sox looked as though they had finally turned the corner offensively, but hopes have faded after missing opportunities for homestand series wins against Baltimore and Cincinnati.
On Tuesday, the Sox came close to making all the wrong kinds of history before finally scoring their first run of the game in the ninth inning. It wasn’t enough, though, and Boston lost by a score of 1-2 after scraping together just four hits. With the one run, the Sox narrowly missed being shutout in consecutive games at home for the first time since August 2002.
Things had been looking up earlier this month. Team wOBA, this writer’s preferred measure of offensive production, was an American League-worst at .268 before May 1. But then the hits started flowing and for the middle two weeks of the month, the Sox led the Major Leagues with a .361 wOBA.
The Red Sox lead baseball in doubles this year, by far, and recorded a club-record 76 of them in the month of May, edging the previous record of 75 doubles in 2004. The 76 doubles were the most for May by any team in Major League history save for the 1926 White Sox and 1930 Cardinals (80 doubles).
Throughout the month, standout performances by Trevor Story, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers made Red Sox baseball fun to watch. Suddenly, no opponent’s lead seemed insurmountable. And that was important, because while the offense was powering up, Sox pitching was shaky, at best. No AL team allowed more home runs than the Red Sox (39), tying a club record for the most ever in a month of May (also 1977 and 1965). Boston’s team ERA was 4.44 in May, fourth-highest in the league.
Among Red Sox batters with at least 75 at-bats in May, Martinez led the team for batting average (.406) and on-base percentage (.467). Devers was the team leader for wOBA (.482), slugging percentage (.712) and OPS (1.133).
Among Red Sox pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched in May, Nick Pivetta led the team with a 2.11 ERA and 0.835 WHIP over six appearances. Opponents against him slashed 187 AVG/.226 OBP/.302 SLG. Out of the bullpen, Austin Davis worked to a team-best 0.75 ERA in May, followed by John Schreiber (1.74) and Jake Diekman (2.45). Schreiber’s 0.581 WHIP was the best May mark out of the pen. Matt Strahm had the best strikeout rate (11.57 per 9.0 IP), minimum 5.0 IP.
Without consistency from the offense, this Red Sox team isn’t going anywhere. Despite the bright spots, Boston’s pitching, particularly relief pitching, is as expected. Again and again in May, Matt Barnes showed he is nowhere near reliable, recording team-highs in ERA (9.64) and WHIP (1.929) in 11 appearances. Ryan Brasier similarly disappointed with a 7.84 ERA in 10 games after allowing opponents to go 14-for-43 (.326) against him.
The Red Sox finished May at 14-14.
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