The Boston Red Sox must do at least one thing before they can ride back into the win column and begin their improbable journey to the postseason: score a run.
The Red Sox?s offense has been asleep at the wheel in Boston?s first two games following the Major League Baseball All-Star break. Garrett Richards hurled a complete-game, two-hit shutout Saturday as the Los Angeles Angels blanked the Sox 3-0, marking Boston?s second consecutive shutout defeat to open the second half.
?You can?t take away from good pitching. They?ve thrown two good ballgames,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said. ?But certainly the way we?ve swung the bat over the last month leading into the All-Star break, we were all feeling like we?re capable of more than what we?ve shown the first two nights here coming out of the break.?
For those keeping score, the Red Sox have scored zero runs on seven hits over their first 18 innings of the second half. C.J. Wilson shut down Boston?s offense in Friday?s series opener at Angel Stadium of Anaheim before Mike Trout launched a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Richards was even better in Saturday?s game, which the Angels won behind two home runs from Kole Calhoun.
It?s a troubling reality for the Red Sox because it?s reminiscent of earlier this season, when Boston?s bats went silent amid a stretch of good starting pitching. Rick Porcello wasn?t anything to write home about Saturday, as he surrendered two homers over five laborious innings, but Justin Masterson was solid in three scoreless innings of relief. Wade Miley tossed a gem Friday. The Red Sox’s mound work hasn?t mattered one iota in the series, though, because the Angels could score one run, three runs or 80 runs. The result is going to be the same for as long as Boston continues to produce goose eggs.
?You go for a four-day break, you?re always trying to get back into a rhythm coming out of the break,? Farrell said. ?But to say that?s the reason we?ve lost momentum, we?ve run into two good pitchers who have thrown the ball well.?
The Red Sox?s back-to-back losses to open the second half mark the first time they?ve been shut out in consecutive games since Aug. 7-8, 2009, against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Boston is hitting .117 (7-for-60) with just two extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts to four walks in the first two games of its four-game series against Los Angeles. The Sox face an All-Star on Sunday in Hector Santiago.
The disappointing start to the second half is surprising because the Red Sox rode a hot offense into the All-Star break. They averaged 4.6 runs per game in their final 48 games of the first half (fifth-best in the American League) after averaging 3.8 runs per game over their first 41 contests of 2015 (fourth-worst in the AL). The Toronto Blue Jays (218) and Detroit Tigers (184) were the only AL teams to score more runs than the Red Sox (181) between June 1 and the start of the break.
In other words, there was a major presumption that the Red Sox, who won 15 of their final 24 games before the All-Star break, were capable of taking the next step in the second half so long as their pitching improved. And yet, two games into Boston?s second-half slate, it?s the offense that?s snoozing.
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