Another week is nearly in the books and the disaster of a start to the 2019 MLB season appears to be coming to an end for the Boston Red Sox. Following two embarrassing losses to the New York Yankees in the Bronx, Boston is currently sitting at the bottom of the American League East division alongside two teams that were hardly considered MLB worthy rosters, the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.
The boys from Beantown have struggled partially due to underwhelming performances from key contributors from last season. Right fielder Mookie Betts, following a season that saw him win the American League Most Valuable Player award, is currently hitting .200 through the team’s first 19 games. Centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is currently hitting .148 with only two RBI. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after being sidelined for all but three games in the 2018 season due to a knee surgery returned to the lineup for six games and hit for only .100 before landing himself back on the injured reserve with a minor knee injury that will keep him out of the rotation for at least a month. The Red Sox are currently 20th in the MLB in runs scored, not typically what one would hope for a year after they lead the entire league in the same category.
Their pitching, on the other hand, has been a different level of embarrassing through the start of the season. Their combined 6.01 ERA is good for dead last in the league. Starting with Chris Sale, who isn’t yet even on the first year of his five year, $150 million contract (which begins next year), through four starts has an ERA of 8.50. To make matters worse, in his fourth start Tuesday, April 16, against the Yankees, which was also his fourth loss, he pitched five innings while giving up four earned runs. Those four runs over that time span actually lowered his earned run average, a terrifying stat for Red Sox fans that have seen a massive decline in Sale’s level of play since his payday.
Wednesday night, April 17, pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was able to record his first quality start of the 2019 season after pitching six innings, striking out six batters and giving up one run, only for a bullpen blow up by relievers Brandon Workman and Ryan Brasier to foil Eovaldi’s great performance and give Boston yet another loss. Now through 19 games, the Red Sox have put themselves in an eight-game joke out of first place in the division. They now reside behind the red hot Tampa Bay Rays, who were written off going into the season by reports saying they couldn’t compete in the division against the Red Sox and Yankees.
The Red Sox took on the Rays this weekend, winning two close contests by scores of 6-4 and 6-5. Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for Boston in the first game, and while giving up three runs, Rodriguez struck out six batters and kept the Red Sox in the contest through his five frames of work. Boston’s bats didn’t heat up until the fifth inning, but when they did they came with a force. Infielder Rafael Devers drove an absolute shot deep to center field, scoring left fielder J.D. Martinez with a photo finish at home plate. After Devers was tagged out, catcher Christian Vasquez stepped up to the plate and took a fastball from Rays’ pitcher Ryan Yarbrough and sent it right over the centerfield wall for a solo home run. Boston held a 3-2 lead at the end of the fifth, getting two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a textbook double play from the infield crew. The Rays answered quickly, with infielder Daniel Robertson cranking a shot down the third base line, scoring two runners. Heading into the fourth inning tied at 4-4, Betts and Moreland hit back-to-back home runs to secure the 6-4 victory for Boston.
Following two impressive performances against the first place Rays, with Boston’s bats heating up and Betts looking like his old self again, the Red Sox seem to have gathered their resolve from last season. Now all eyes turn to Sale to see if he can recapture his lightning in a bottle skills from last season so the boys from Beantown can make another deep run into the postseason.