Over on Twitter at @RSNStats I often find any comparison of the team’s performance to that of 2004, 2007, and 2013 meets with favorable, albeit virtual nods. And why not? Those magical years in which the Red Sox won the World Championship have often been paradigms of great play.
So it’s all the more gut wrenching after the retooling of the past off-season to draw yet another comparison to the lost year of 2014.
A few days ago I told you that this year’s Red Sox were at 12-13 as we headed into May, just as they were in 2014. Now, after a humiliating shut out in Toronto, the Sox stand at 13-16, again just as they were after 29 games into 2014.
Here’s a fast look at the how the club has performed over the past two seasons after 29 games. First, a look at some common offensive stats.
Though it hasn’t shown itself lately, early offensive production boosted the Red Sox numbers nicely in 2015, with a big boost in home runs almost entirely attributable to Hanley Ramírez. While strikeouts are markedly down, a +10 differential in total run production year-over-year seems like a small gain given the off-season improvements to the lineup.
Now, a look at some common pitching statistics. Here the deficiencies are glaring in earned runs, home runs, and walks allowed.
It’s easy to keep telling ourselves that it’s early in the season. But as the calendar unfolds, how much can this team afford to be just like last year?
Red Sox starter Wade Miley went 6.0 innings, striking out a season-high 8 Blue Jays, but not without giving up 4 earned runs on 8 hits, including 2 home runs. Josh Donaldson‘s home run, coming in the bottom of the first inning put the Red Sox behind right from the start of the game.
It was the 23rd first inning run allowed by Red Sox pitching this season, the 3rd-most in baseball behind the Indians (25) and Dodgers (24). In games where opponents score first, the Sox are now 5-14.
This will get better. This will get better when we come back to full strength. Better days are ahead.
— Manager John Farrell
Boston pitchers’ first inning ERA this season is 6.75 comapred to 4.17 last season and 3.22 in 2013. In fact, in 2013 the Red Sox allowed just 67 total first inning runs. Only the Angels (63) and Reds (61) allowed fewer in all of baseball.
For the 14th time in his career, Miley allowed multiple home runs in a single game. On Friday it was a second inning solo shot by Chris Colabello after which the score stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the 6th when Edwin Encarnacion scored on a Danny Valencia single and Russel Martin scored on a sacrifice by Kevin Pillar. The Blue Jays tacked on 3 more in the 8th inning to break the game open.
Still, up until that point, the game was eminently winnable. 4 Blue Jays runs are not an insurmountable mountain to climb. And yet the Red Sox offense was all but silent, save for two singles by Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts. That was it. Two meaningless singles.
You expect the Blue Jays to score. Entering Friday’s action they had scored 155 times, the most in the major leagues this season. The league average is 119 runs, while the Red Sox had (and after tonight’s shut out, still have) 128.
Boston had opportunities to climb into the game, most notably in the 4th inning when, down 2-0, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava walked back-to-back and Allen Craig was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and no one out, Blake Swihart struck out and Xander Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending double play.
For the past 7 games, the Red Sox are batting .077 with just 3 extra-base hits, 8 runs scored and a staggering 51 men left on base. No team is leaving more men on base than the Red Sox so this season. Entering tonight’s action Boston averaged 7.82 men left on base per game and averaged 3.79 men left in scoring position. Tonight, Boston was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Red Sox shut out for first time in 2015
While the dismissal of pitching coach Juan Nieves dominated the Red Sox news cycle yesterday, it’s the offensive power outage that seems difficult to comprehend given the inherent power of this lineup. That said, an offensive slump at another time of the season would be viewed as an unfortunate inevitability without the soul crushing impact it has had throughout Red Sox Nation.
Friday’s was the first shut out of the Red Sox this season and the first by the Blue Jays since an 8-0 loss last July 24 (also in Toronto). In that game the Blue Jays limited the Red Sox to just one hit. In the history of the rivalry, which now stands in Boston’s favor at 308-255, Friday’s game was just the 8th time (and 4th time this century) the Jays have held the Sox to two or fewer hits.
As for the Red Sox, their pitching has now allowed 7+ runs by an opponent for a 9th time this season, tying them with the Indians for the 2nd-most such games in baseball behind the Rockies (10).
Odds ‘n ends
Travis Shaw, 25, made his MLB debut with the Red Sox on Friday going 0-for-2 with a walk…At 2 hours, 41 minutes the game was Boston’s 2nd shortest of 9 innings or more. The only shorter such game was 2 hours, 26 minutes on May 5 against the Rays…Last Red Sox shut out was September 16 against the Pirates. Boston was shut out 15 times in 2014…Blue Jays Jose Bautista hit his 14th career triple Friday, his first since 2011…Mookie Betts’ string of extra-base hits came to an end with a single tonight. Each of his last 6 hits had gone for extra bases (3 doubles, 3 home runs). Betts has, however, now hit safely in each of his last 7 games against Toronto.