They went into the All-Star break with the best record in the American League, a resilient and seemingly infallible pitching staff, and some offensive concerns, but nothing to lose sleep over.
Now, just one week later, they’ve lost three of four to Toronto and Texas, and their offense — despite the return of third baseman Mike Lowell — has mustered just nine runs during that span.
So what’s the problem?
“The first five innings, he used all his pitches, especially his off-speed, set up his fastball,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told NESN’s Heidi Watney during Red Sox Extra Innings. “We get to the sixth and he hangs a breaking ball to Michael Young, and we’re tied.”
From there, the game spiraled out of control for starter John Smoltz — he gave up five runs in the sixth, and three home runs — and he’s still looking for a second solid outing while the Sox try to stop reeling.
“We’ve lost three out of four,” Francona said. “Toronto seems like a long time ago; I think that’s the only way to go about it. It’s a long season…. It’s not always as easy as you want it to be.”
Here’s another question: Wasn’t Smoltz supposed to be the second-half savior? The once-formidable Atlanta ace came to Boston with major expectations on his shoulders, and so far, he has failed to meet them. In five starts in a Red Sox uniform, he’s 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA.
Still, though, Smoltz insists that his stuff has been good. It’s just the results that have been bad.
“I’m frustrated, but yet I’m still pleased with the way I’m throwing the baseball,” Smoltz said. “It’s just the results have been awful. They have not matched the effort or, for what I think, the results.”