The day sure started well …… as Jon Lester blew away Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist to open the game. What made Zobrist’s whiff noteworthy was the fact that it was the last highlight of the day for Boston.
What followed that opening frame was maddening: a two-run shot off the bat of Pena, two runs in the thrid that followed leadoff walks and a two-run blast off the bat of BJ Upton. Mixed in was a flaccid offense that couldn’t manage to even tickle Rays starter Matt Garza. And finally, the day bottomed out in the Sixth when Lester chunked a throw to first that screamed “CAPITULATION.” Throw in three Tampa double plays, three Ray steals, and an outfield assist by Carl Crawford and the once promising day turned into full-blown rout.
* There is not much you can say about the Sox offense right now that can properly sum up their feebleness. They are 0-25 with RISP over the past four games and just 12-84 since Opening Night. The walks are down, the strikeouts are pacing with last season and the left-handers, particularly JD Drew, are simply killing the team right now. I am not a huge Jacoby Ellsbury fan, but it is clear that this team needs Mrs. Ellsbury back in the lineup immediately.
* Is there anyone in MLB who is tougher on the Sox right now than Matt Garza? Going back to game seven of the 2008 ALCS, this guy has been a Sox-killer.
* Granted, the Sox have been facing some tough pitchers but this is telling: Through twelve games, the Sox are ELEVENTH in the AL in walks. This coming from a team that is usually first or second in the league in freebies. That helps explain why their runs are down 1.38/gm from a year ago. (Curiously, a quick glance at the AL team batting stats reveals that the Sox really haven’t performed that badly versus the league averages. Following the last four games, I would have thought the numbers were worse. Much worse.)
* On the pitching side the ledger, a few things jump out. The Sox are 12th in the AL in WHIP and 12th in Strikeouts. Again, going up against NY, TB and Minn sure hasn’t helped, but those numbers are way out of whack for a staff that was supposed to be one of the league’s two or three best.
* As badly as the defense has played since Thursday, the Sox have actually done a pretty good job defending once balls are put in play. Last year, the Sox were worst in the AL in BABIP (Batting average of balls put in play) and this year, they are fifth best.
Folks, five games back on April 18th is a bit early to panic but this hole is starting to look pretty deep.