Once again, the Red Sox have gone on the road and embarassed themselves. To be fair, the Angels are a good team. But the Red Sox are also a good team... but apparently they're only good in Boston.
The Sox are 36-11 (.766) in Fenway Park and 21-32 (.396) on the road. They score 5.62 runs per game at home, but only 4.32 on the road. But the big problem isn't the hitting. Fenway Park is friendly to offense, so scoring fewer runs on the road is understandable. But the pitching is considerably weaker on the road as well.
The Sox have a 3.35 team ERA in Fenway Park, but on the road their team ERA is 4.34. They allow 3.72 runs at home, and 4.55 on the road. So the Sox score 1.3 fewer runs per game on the road, and allow 0.8 more runs.
Why is this? At this point in the season, such trends go beyond coincidence.
Here are the Sox pitchers (and their ERA's) who perform much better in Fenway than on the road.
Here are the Sox hitters (along with their averages) who perform significantly better at home than away.
These trends aren't team wide. Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Dustin Pedroia have all done better on the road. Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, JD Drew, and Manny Ramirez have consistently performed the same both home and away.
The pitching trends are understandable. Buchholz, Lester, and Masterson are all young players. None of them have much experience pitching on the road in the Majors. Most of the time they're going to a ballpark they've never even been to, let alone pitched in. There's no routine built up, no comfort level.
With the offensive players, that could also explain Ellsbury's lagging performance on the road. He even gets caught stealing more on the road (5 times) than at home (1 time).
But what about Crisp, Lugo, and Varitek? Well there's no mystery behind these guys. They just aren't very good hitters. It's not that they have trouble on the road, it's that Fenway Park makes it seem as though they're good hitters. Furthermore, Lugo, Crisp, Varitek, and Ellsbury often bat in order (7-8-9-1), which makes things even easier on opposing pitchers on the road.
Unfortunately, there isn't too much that can be done about this. Varitek is showing no signs of improvement. And by now it's become clear that Crisp and Lugo are mediocre to below average hitters. Hopefully the younger pitchers and Ellsbury will gain some confidence on the road. And perhaps the returning David Ortiz will improve his road performance.
AP Photo/Gus Ruelas