Friday’s 2-1 Red Sox loss to the Mariners was painful on several fronts, not the least of which was because Clay Buchholz pitched a great game.
Buchholz allowed just 3 hits and 1 run over 8.0 strong innings. It was his first outing of 8.0+ innings since working 9.0 IP against the Rays last August 31.
After the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Buchholz “had command, he threw a lot of strikes, he had every pitch working for him.” The only blemish in the outing was the solo home run he gave up to the Mariners’ Seth Smith.
But what Farrell said about Buchholz wasn’t the highlight of his post game analysis.
Before the press even asked a question, Farrell owned up to his oddball decision to pitch to the Mariners’ one-man wrecking crew, Nelson Cruz. “That’s a terrible decision on my part,” Farrell explained. “We had first base open, we saw Cruz’s first three at-bats, he was chasing some off speed stuff and he was 1-8 against Junichi Tazawa previously. It didn’t work out. That’s a horrible decision on my part.”
Cruz went on to smack his 7th career walk-off hit and joined the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler as the only players in baseball with 2 such hits this season.
The Red Sox lost a chance to gain valuable ground in the American League East as every team in the division suffered a loss Friday.
Farrell’s admission, though refreshing for its candor, took the spotlight off the fact that the Red Sox offense has all but disappeared lately.
We knew pitching would be a problem and steps, however tentative, have been take to address those problems.
But what has happened to the Red Sox’ promising offensive lineup?
With Friday’s 2-1 loss the Sox have now scored 2 or fewer runs in 4 or more straight games for the first time since last June 14-29, when they had a 6 game such streak.
The Red Sox have 14 games this season with 2 or fewer runs. They’ve gone 4-10 in such games.
WAR (wins above replacement), is a measure intended to tell you the approximate number of wins a player’s team has achieved above what might be expected if that player was substituted by a replacement level player. A player with a 4.2 WAR indicates that his team won roughly four more games than would be expected if the team had substituted that player with a replacement player.
In 2015 just two Red Sox, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, have 1.0+ WAR according to baseball-reference.com. Compare that to the Dodgers who lead baseball with 6 such players and the Diamondbacks, Tigers, Royals, and Blue Jays, all of whom have 4 such players.
For comparison, in the 2013 World Championship season, Boston had 11 players with WARs of 1.0 or higher, the most in baseball. Boston had an MLB-best 6 players with a WAR of 3.0 or higher: Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Shane Victorino.
Red Sox worst May AVG since at least 1914
In May, Boston owns the very worst batting average in the majors (.207). No Red Sox team since at least 1914 has had a lower batting average in May.
This month, compared against all teams, the Red Sox also have the 2nd-worst slugging percentage (.334), the 2nd-lowest OPS (.612), the 2nd-fewest RBIs (33), the 3rd-lowest on-base percentage (.278), and the 5th fewest hits (95). The Red Sox have just 10 home runs in May, tied with the Angels for the fewest in the AL.
So far in May, Napoli’s .178 batting average is among the 12 lowest in baseball (minium 40 at-bats). Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts have just 2 RBI.