Monday, July 16, 2007
Yesterday's 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays was another disappointing game in an ever lengthening stretch of average baseball being played by the Boston Red Sox. Since the beginning of June, we're 19-20 (.487).
We've had a somewhat difficult schedule with 4 games in Oakland, 3 in Arizona, 3 in Atlanta, 3 in San Diego, 3 in Seattle, and 3 in Detroit. But we're also losing games against below average teams. We lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees in Fenway, 2 of 3 to Colorado at home, 2 of 4 to Texas, and now 2 of 4 to Toronto.
We've also lost some close games that we could have and probably should have won. June 3rd, 6-5 loss to New York. June 4th, 5-4 loss to the A's. June 5th, 2-0 loss to Oakland. June 6th, 3-2 loss to the Athletics. June 26th, 8-7 loss to Seattle. June 27th, 2-1 loss to Seattle. June 30th, 5-4 loss to Texas. July 1st, 2-1 lss to Texas. July 7th, 3-2 loss to Detroit. July 8th, 6-5 loss to Detroit. July 13th, 6-5 loss to Toronto. July 15th, 2-1 loss to Toronto. That's 10 one run losses, and a two run loss. If we had just won 5 of those games, we'd be at 24-15 (.615) over this stretch.
On May 29th, the Red Sox were 36-15 (.706). We've dropped more than .100 points in winning percentage since then. And although we still have the best record in baseball (tied with the Angels), we are no longer far and away the best team in baseball. We're still a comfy 9 games up on New York, but if we had maintained that .700 winning percentage, we'd be up by 20 games. And let's say we played .600 ball over the last 40 games, we'd be 14 games ahead. In other words, we could be light years ahead of New York instead of miles.
What's changed since April and May? The schedule had a lot of good teams in those months as well, but we beat them. Three of three from the Angels, 2 of 3 from Minnesota, 2 of 3 from Atlanta, 2 of 3 from Cleveland. And we crushed bad teams like New York and Texas.
Something's different, though. Maybe it's the big lead we built up. Maybe there's no sense of urgency. Maybe we were simply playing over our heads in the first two months.
Tim Wakefield's performances have been slipping. Opponents hit .210 off Wake in April. Then .244 in May, then .281 in June, and now .327 in July. Six of his first 7 starts were Quality Starts. But since those first 7, only 2 of 11 have been. His ERA was 1.79 on May 10th, now it's 4.47.
Schilling also had a great April, going 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA, but since then he's fallen off and landed on the DL. Even with the 1 hitter in Oakland, his June ERA was 5.79. And of course now we have Gabbard filling in, who has done OK, but he's still a AAA player and he hasn't gone deep into games for us, exposing our soft middle-relief.
Julio Lugo's average has been low all season, but earlier he was still producing. He knocked in 30 runs in April and May, but has knocked in a mere 10 in June and July. He's having a good July thus far, so let's hope he's on the turn around. Then again, when you hit .071 in June, there really is no place to go but up.
Kevin Youkilis's .402 month of May would be hard for anyone to duplicate. However, he's fallen off from that considerably. He's hitting .259 since May, with a good OBP, but his slugging shows significant shrinkage. He's slugging .361 in June and July, after slugging .407 in April and .679 in May. He hit 8 homers in the first 2 months of the season but has only hit 1 since then. It might be all the switching in the lineup, he might not be getting the same protection, whatever. Right now, he should probably be hitting earlier in the lineup because he's still getting on base. His slugging right now is far too low for a #5 or #6 hitter.
JD Drew has been stop and go, slow and go all season. The man is I-93 in Quincy at 3 in the afternoon. He'll have stretches of going really fast and hard, only to come to a complete stop. It isn't like he had an amazing April and May. His April was good, his May sucked. His June was actually pretty damn good with 6 homers, a .325 average, .404 OBP and .558 slugging.
This season reminds me of 2004. We came out of the gate very quickly that year, then turned mediocre. We made some trades, got rid of Nomar, and exploded late in the year. We won the Wild Card then went 11-3 in the playoffs. This team needs something to stir it up. That might be a trade, it might be a player like Ortiz or Manny getting hot, but we need something. This mediocrity is boring the hell out of me, and although the AL East is ours to lose, this team needs to improve itself before they are a World Series team.