BOSTON — The Red Sox were nearly unstoppable through the first two months of the 2016 season, but since June rolled around, Boston has fallen off the wagon.
The Red Sox are 5-9 so far in June, and they’re now a game and a half out of first place with the Toronto Blue Jays creeping up, just two games behind the Baltimore Orioles in third place. And it’s something that hasn’t been lost on the team.
“It’s not been reflective of the first two months that we’ve had, and particularly the most recent stretch at home here, where we’ve felt like we’ve really gained some momentum, made this a comfortable place for us, an exciting place for us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Boston’s 8-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
“I still think that this lineup is built ideally for this ballpark, but we’ve had some games where we haven’t kept things under control in the start. And we’ve played from behind here of late a little bit, but this month has been kind of the other side of the coin compared to the first two.”
In times like these, it’s important to remember there still are 96 games left. But now, the season is transitioning into summer, which means the non-waiver trade deadline is starting to stare the Red Sox in the face. Their starting pitching is struggling — Roenis Elias gave up seven runs over four innings in his spot start Friday — and the market for arms is going to be competitive. If they do make a move, it likely would have to come well before July 31.
But either way, the Red Sox clearly aren’t giving up, and the mood in the clubhouse hasn’t really changed despite their struggles.
“We’ve succeeded a lot,” right fielder Mookie Betts said. “When failure comes around, it’s going to be difficult to deal with at any time. But I think we’ll be just fine. We’ll bounce back, and we can put up 20 hits tomorrow. It’s just one day.
“You’re going to go through your stretches. I think we’ve been playing pretty good baseball.”
Here are some more notes from Friday’s loss.
— Elias had a tumultuous first start in a Red Sox uniform, and he won’t get another shot for now. Farrell announced Friday that Elias and outfielder Rusney Castillo were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Clay Buchholz will take Elias’ spot in the rotation.
— Things were rough for the Red Sox on Friday, but David Ortiz had a lot to be proud of. His two-run home run in the fourth inning was the 521st of his career, tying him with Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Frank Thomas and Willie McCovey for 19th on the all-time list.
“It means a lot,” Ortiz said of the milestone. “Historically, all you guys know how great was Mr. Ted Williams. Like I always say, whenever they throw your name out there with those (legends), it’s something that kind of tells you what kind of a career you’ve had.”
— Brock Holt is progressing in his concussion recovery and will be re-evaluated by concussion specialist Dr. Mickey Collins in Boston on Sunday.
“I wish I could give you a more definitive answer on that,” Farrell said of Holt’s recovery before Friday’s game, “because there are days in which he gets through an intense physical workday and then has been responding well to that, and there’s been other days that unbeknownst to him or unexpected or unanticipated by him, there’s some effects of the concussion that are there. That’s the frustrating part for Brock in all this.”
— A big part of the Red Sox’s lack of offense has been stranding runners. They had just four runs to show for their 11 hits Friday and are 7 for their last 44 (.159) with runners in scoring position.
— In a very pleasant surprise, backup catcher Sandy Leon has been crushing baseballs since joining the big-league club. Leon went 3-for-4 with a double Friday and is batting .692 (9-for-13) with three doubles in five games in 2016.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Jun 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Franklin Gutierrez (21) rounds the bases after hitting his second home run of the game during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports