After a mammoth May for the Red Sox, June started with a disappointing 3-4 road trip to Toronto and Baltimore that exposed clearly the pitching weaknesses of this 2016 club. Still, Boston managed to cling to at least a share of the division lead heading into a short weekend series at home.
Here, now, are some odds and end from the week that was:
- Few Sox fans want it to be over for David Ortiz and the way he’s playing, it’s reasonable to question why he would retire after this year. On the other hand, there is still a lot of season left to play and you can’t blame Ortiz for wanting to go out on top. And on top, is certainly where he’s shaping up to be. Of Ortiz’ many achievements so far, consider this: Among players with at least 75 plate appearances this season, Big Papi owns a .309 batting average when batting with two strikes, the best such AVG among all major leaguers of any age. The next best mark is held by the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy at .289.
- In part because of Ortiz’ play, the Red Sox lead MLB with a .224 team AVG when batting with two strikes this season, one of just two teams batting over .200 in such situations (also the Marlins at .209). Boston’s two-strike hitting is their best in any season since at least 1988.
- Against the National League the Sox are 5-2 this season and will face the senior circuit again next week when they travel to San Francisco for two against the Giants. Boston has done well in Interleague play, owning an overall record of 202-148 (.577), second only to the Yankees (204-141, .591). The best overall record by any NL club in Interleague action is the Cardinals’ 157-131 (.527). But in Pittsburgh, manager Clint Hurdle has led the Pirates to a 59-41 mark (.584) against the American League since he joined the team in 2011. That’s the third best Interleague record in baseball during that time after the Yankees (.606) and Red Sox (.602).
- American League teams hold an edge over National League clubs in 2016 Interleague play, 48-43, with NL teams batting 849-for-3195 (.266), just ahead of AL teams, which have gone 830-for-3170 (.262). AL pitchers hold the edge over their NL counterparts, however, with ERAs of 4.25 vs 4.69, respectively.
- Jackie Bradley‘s 29-game hitting streak is the longest in baseball so far this season. When it ended on May 26, Xander Bogaerts then owned the longest active such streak in baseball. That streak ended this week, too, but left Bogaerts tied with the estimable Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Pesky for the second longest hitting streak in history for Sox shortstop (only longer was Garciaparra’s 30 games in 1997). The Elias Sports Bureau says Bradley and Bogaerts represented just the second time in the last 75 seasons that two teammates had streaks of 26 or more games in the same season. The others were Shawn Green (28 games) and Shannon Stewart (26) for the 1999 Blue Jays. On Saturday, the day after Bogaerts’ streak ended, he went 3-for-4 and told WEEI after the game, “I felt great today, coming to the park. Relieved…the streak is amazing. It’s awesome and all, but it’s nerve-wracking.”
- With Betts’ and Bogaerts’ hitting streaks ended, the new longest active hitting streak in baseball are those of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, both of whom collected their 12th straight game with a hit on Saturday. Since May 3, a Boston player has held at least a share of the longest active hitting streak in the majors.
- Mike Trout‘s résumé looks better every year. This past weekend he collected his 150th career home run making him just one of eight players in baseball history with that many HR and 500 runs scored in an age-24 season or younger. That’s a list that includes Hall of Famers Jimmie Fox, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, and Frank Robinson, as well as Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey, Jr.
- As remarkable as the 2016 Red Sox offense has been, there is certainly a clear problem with Boston’s pitching. So far this season, the Sox have lost seven games even after scoring six or more runs, the most such losses in the majors. This was certainly on display in two tough Sox losses (7-12 and 9-13) to their division rival, the Orioles, last week. Thursday’s loss was particularly ugly with a franchise-high seven home runs allowed by Red Sox pitchers for just the fourth time in club history. This season, between May 27 and June 2, Boston scored 30 runs in four losses.
- On Thursday, Jackie Bradley became the first Sox player to be named an AL Player of the Week since Dustin Pedroia almost five seasons ago. Better still, Bradley and his wife, Erin, welcomed their first child, a daughter named Emerson, on the same day.
Bonus: A year after parlaying his late season success with the Red Sox, the Athletics’ Rich Hill continues to put the pieces together. After 12 big league seasons, the 36-year-old Boston native earned his very first AL Pitcher of the Month honors after going 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA in May. Could a return to Boston be in the cards as the Sox look for help down the stretch?