Red Sox Offense Must Produce More to Help Keep Pressure Off Pitching Staff

  Red Sox Offense Must Produce More to Help Keep Pressure Off Pitching Staff

Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox were the No. 1 ranked offense in all of baseball in 2011. So far this season, Boston ranks just 10th in the league in runs scored. And that just won't cut it when your pitching staff is still working out the kinks.

After a wonderful ceremony to celebrate Fenway Park's 100th anniversary on Friday afternoon, the Red Sox provided a major let down for the sell-out crowd in attendance hoping for a win to cap off a tremendous day.

Manager Bobby Valentine acknowledged that he enjoyed the anniversary celebration beforehand, but inferred that the spectacle was ruined by Boston's poor performance.

"Before the game was spectacular," Valentine said of the pre-game ceremony. "It's a downer now."

The obviously downtrodden manager has gotten his team off to a painful 4-9 start to the season and it looks like he's becoming less optimistic about the team's performance as the days go on.

Clay Buchholz pitched six innings, allowing six runs and five home runs in the 6-2 loss the rival Yankees. The Red Sox' No. 3 starter could have done a whole lot more to help Boston's chances on Friday, but the real issue in the team's current four-game losing streak lies with the offense.

David Ortiz was the catalyst behind many of the Red Sox scoring chances on the afternoon, slamming a home run to center field in the second inning. But Big Papi's effort was not matched by the guys filling out the rest of the lineup.

Sure, eight of Boston's nine starters recorded a hit in the game — Jason Repko being the lone exception — but the Red Sox were still only able to produce two runs from those 10 hits. Leaving eight men on-base just isn't a great omen for a team struggling to keep opposing teams off the score sheet.

With two more games against New York this weekend, before heading out on a seven-game road trip starting Monday, the Red Sox have some time to get their ship righted. But the turnaround starts with the offense.

If the Red Sox are able to go out and score 31 runs over a three-game stretch like they did against Tampa Bay, then the pressure will be taken off the pitching staff and it will give them time to settle into their roles.

Granted 31 runs in three games is asking a bit much from a team just looking to gather its footing, but some early offense would certainly give Boston's pitchers some breathing room.

The weight of this issue falls squarely on the shoulders of Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez at this point. Both Pedey and Gonzo have gotten off to decent starts this season, but with so much riding on the next few weeks they better kick into high gear and fast or the focus may soon be shifting to 2013.

It is still early and there's plenty of baseball left to be played — 149 games, in fact — so let's not jump to any conclusions. But the Red Sox must recognize a malignant problem when they see it and right now they're in a do-or-die situation.

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