BOSTON — The Red Sox’ ugly stretch got even uglier on Sunday, and things are only going to get tougher.
The Blue Jays rolled into Sunday’s rubber match and blasted five home runs while throttling the Red Sox 12-4 in front of a stunned Fenway Park crowd. The Sox end their seven-game homestand with a dismal 2-5 record, which means they’ve now lost eight of their last 10 games overall.
“I think we’ve got a number of guys dealing with some frustration right now, there’s no question about it,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Sunday’s game. “The key for us is to maintain our preparation and work routine. Those are the two things that we can control. We can’t direct the ball after it’s hit and I know with the attitude of this group, it’s a resilient one and we’re getting tested right now, there’s no doubt about it.”
The Red Sox started off their season with a bang, but last weekend’s sweep at the hands of the Rangers in Texas has left them reeling. Not only is Boston’s major league-best record long gone, but so is the division lead, as the Sox find themselves looking up at both the Yankees and Orioles in the American League East.
“Just keep grinding, that’s all you can do,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of the recent stretch. “We’re not too far away. It’s only May. We’re gonna go out there and keep grinding away. That’s all you can do. It’s gonna start going our way. We’ve got too good a team, too good of a pitching staff to not do it.”
The Red Sox’ pitching is the biggest reason the club still owns a solid 22-16 record through the first 38 games. On Sunday, Red Sox pitchers gave up a season-high five home runs, but it’s reasonable to expect the staff to bounce back. What’s become extra concerning, however, is Boston’s inability to cash in on scoring chances.
The Red Sox left eight men on base and finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. During their three-game series against the Jays, the Red Sox offense left 25 men on base and went 3-for-36 (.083) with runners in scoring position. That isn’t going to cut it, obviously, but what makes the stretch so frustrating for Boston is that it’s hard to explain.
“I don’t think guys are coming out of their approach despite the stretch that we’re in,” Farrell said. “We’re hitting some balls right at people, particularly in the situation where we put men in scoring position the first three innings [on Sunday]. … As much as we cashed in in the month of April, it may be cliché, but things are evening out.”
Going off that logic, the Red Sox are destined to turn things around soon. They can’t rely on the stars simply aligning, though, as they face a nine-game road trip that kicks off in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
“It’s gonna be a tough road trip, facing a good team,” Saltalamacchia said. “Tampa always seems to play well against us. Minnesota just got done playing a good series against us. We feel pretty confident we’re going to go out there and stay within ourselves, take it one day at a time.”
The phrase “take it one day at a time” is less than exciting, but what other choice do the Red Sox have? If they start looking ahead, their descent down the AL East standings moving forward could occur more rapidly than their ascent to begin the season.
The Red Sox have at least one thing working in their favor, though. According to Sunday’s starter, Ryan Dempster, “They don’t hand out trophies in April or May or July or August…”
It’s a good thing, because the Red Sox wouldn’t be adding too much hardware to their trophy case with the way they’re playing right now.
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