The squad dropped eight of 14 games, including five straight, and couldn’t put together more than two straight wins at a time. But these losses weren’t even the worst part.
In that two-week span, besides failing to get in a winning groove, the team couldn’t even post wins — what many assumed to be surefire wins — against rookie hurlers. Marc Rzepczynski, Tommy Hunter, David Hernandez and Brett Anderson don’t exactly sound like a string of fearful stoppers. However, these four pitchers, all very wet behind the ears, took down the mighty Boston bats all within two weeks.
That foursome has combined for just 82 career starts, yet they managed to post victories against the the Red Sox during that ugly stretch. Sure, some pitchers have good days, some rookies have beginner’s luck, but how often did it seem that the Sox let an opportunity to pounce on a team handing the ball to a young arm slip away last summer?
These losses, coupled with a few others against similarly inexperienced opposing pitchers in 2009, set Terry Francona‘s crew back little by little. While such defeats might seem minor at the time, these losses can pile up, and during a late-season playoff race, when every win counts, every loss tends to sting a little longer.
If the Red Sox want to dethrone the Yankees in 2010, the team can’t afford to waste any opportunities. An offense like Boston’s should be licking its chops when a rookie or inexperienced hurler gets the start. The Red Sox, who will have their hands full with a potent Yankees staff and pesky Rays aresenal all season, won’t catch many breaks this summer when it comes to opposing pitchers. When they do occasionally get a whack at a young gun, the bats need to come alive and avoid any surprising setbacks.
From now until Opening Day, NESN.com will run down 25 things that need to happen for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
March 28: Jonathan Papelbon throws more than fastballs.