The elusive winning streak is still something the Boston Red Sox are chasing. The team has yet to reel off even a three-gamer so far this season, most recently dropping three of four to slip back under .500. Inconsistency has been the name of the game so far for Boston, as the offense as a whole has performed slightly better over the past few weeks, but still has too many nights where it shuts down. David Ortiz has been the only one consistently pulling his own weight since day one, and that is something that must change.
In the month of May, Mike Napoli, Jackie Bradley Jr. and the newly-injured Will Middlebrooks are all hitting under .200. Middlebrooks broke his finger on a ground ball and was placed on the disabled list prior to Saturday’s contest. Napoli has cooled off considerably for the second straight year after getting off to a great start in April. Xander Bogaerts has not driven in a run since April 24, and David Ortiz has six of the team’s 11 homers in the month.
One thing that could spearhead a considerable change is the overall team approach. The Red Sox have always been a tremendously patient team that draws a ton of walks. Napoli, Ortiz, Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia are all in the top 20 in the American League in walks, and the team as a whole ranks third in on-base percentage. That distinction would hold more water if the Red Sox were not also sporting an uncharacteristic .245 team batting average, good for 21st in baseball. Things started to turn around once Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino returned from the DL, but the offense has once again gone a bit stagnant. The Red Sox are going to have to start being more aggressive without losing their patience, a fine line to walk, but a combination that was a staple of last year’s team and past great Red Sox clubs.
More than a quarter of the way through the season, it is time for the Red Sox to get it going. Jon Lester and John Lackey have done a great job holding down the starting rotation, but a big contributing factor to the inconsistency of the Red Sox has been the performance of the back end of the rotation. Jake Peavy has gotten hit hard recently and leads the AL with 27 walks. Felix Doubront has found his rhythm a little bit, but Clay Buchholz continues to look lost on the mound. After pitching well and earning two wins, Buchholz has gotten crushed in his last two starts, allowing ten hits in each contest. These three need to round into form consistently or the Red Sox are going to continue to wallow in mediocrity behind two good starting pitchers.
The Boston Red Sox have certainly not found their groove yet in the 2013-14 season, showing only glimpses of being a great team. This bunch has had far too many opportunities squandered and needs to heat up with the weather. Issues such as hitting with runners in scoring position, stealing bases and getting solid starts out of the back end of the rotation continue to plague this team, but fans have not even considered losing faith or lowering expectations just yet. They still sit just 2.5 games out of first place and are in no danger of falling off the map.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Boston Red Sox