BOSTON — This was supposed to be the Red Sox?s opportunity to make hay.
The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park on Monday for a 10-game homestand following a difficult 10-game road trip in which they went a combined 4-6 against the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. Things appeared to be trending in the right direction after back-to-back wins at Yankee Stadium, but the Chicago Cubs quickly sent Boston back into a tailspin with a three-game sweep.
?There?s a full half-season to go here,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Wednesday?s 16-9 loss. ?We recognize fully where we are in the standings and what our record indicates and we?ve got to continue to work at that.?
Farrell stayed positive while looking at the bigger picture following Wednesday?s game, during which the Red Sox allowed a season-high 16 runs on 19 hits. But the reality is that the Red Sox are in some serious trouble, as they now enter Thursday?s day off sitting nine games below .500 (38-47) and 8 1/2 games back in the American League East — with seemingly no solution to their problems in sight.
The biggest issue for the Red Sox this season has been their anemic offense. The unit nearly was no-hit while being blanked in Monday?s series opener against the Cubs, and it didn?t fare much better Tuesday as Chicago produced a ninth-inning run against Koji Uehara to propel itself to a 2-1 victory. Offense wasn?t the problem Wednesday, though, as the Red Sox actually recorded 16 hits in a defeat that fell entirely on the shoulders of the pitching staff.
?It was a rough night from the mound,? Farrell said. ?Starting off, Brandon (Workman) had a difficult time getting the ball down in the strike zone. And in conditions where it?s hot (and) the wind is carrying the ball, we made a number of pitches up in the strike zone that they were able to take advantage of.?
While Wednesday marked a terrible night for Red Sox pitchers, it?s hard to come down too hard on the staff because it?s what has allowed Boston to tread water to this point. The Red Sox entered Wednesday?s game ranked fourth in the American League with a 3.73 ERA and tied for second in quality starts with 49. Wednesday?s implosion represented the exception rather than the norm.
That being said, a three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place Cubs — who entered with a 34-46 record — is discouraging, to say the least. It casts a dark cloud over where this season has been and where this season is going for the Red Sox despite Farrell?s insistence that everything isn?t as gloomy as it seems.
?The bigger picture is (we?re) still confident in our guys. This is a one-game situation where, from the mound, it got away from us,? Farrell said. ?But yet at the same time, we still have confidence in the guys in our clubhouse. I feel like we do — and have done — a very good job overall from the mound. So from a bigger picture aspect, there?s I think very solid pitching, very good pitching and defense inside our building right now and yet we?ve got to look to continue to lengthen out our lineup.?
The Red Sox will welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Fenway for three games beginning Friday. Thursday?s off day will give the Red Sox a mental and physical breather, which the club desperately needs after capping a three-game setback with an ugly display.
?It comes at a good time,? Farrell said. ?The quicker we can put this one tonight behind us, the better.?