Red Sox off-day a break from 10-game slide

Red Sox off-day a break from 10-game slide
May 13, 2013, 1:45 pm
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The Red Sox will need Jon Lester to turn things around sooner rather than later.

(AP Images)

BOSTON -- The Red Sox woke up Monday morning to find themselves in third place in the American League East, their lowest standing in the division this season. They are two games behind the division-leading Yankees, and a game behind the second-place Orioles.
 
In their last 10 games, the Sox have gone 2-8, including 2-5 on the just-completed seven-game homestand. In that same stretch, the Yankees, Orioles, and fourth-place Rays all posted 7-3 records.  Even the Blue Jays, who have struggled mightily for most of the season, posted a .500 record in their last 10 games.
 
Before this stretch, which began with a 7-0 loss in Texas, the Sox had the best record in baseball, at 20-8, a .714 winning percentage. They’ve added just two games in the win column since then.
 
In that 10-game span, the Sox played just three games against teams with records better than .500, the Rangers. The Sox lost all three. They have been outscored 62-33 since then, a -29 run differential.
 
Before this recent slide, the Sox had an overall run differential of +49, best in the majors. They are now at +20 overall, good for 10th best.
 
There are plenty of reasons for the Sox' recent struggles in their 10-game slide:
 

  • One of the primary problems is their futility at hitting with runners in scoring position. The Sox are just 13-for-79, hitting .165, in such situations, leaving 73 runners on base, over the last 10 games. In the 28 games before that, they hit .302 with runners in scoring position.

 

  • In the last 10 games, the Sox offense has hit a combined .254. Before that it hit .269.

 

  • In the last 10 games, starting pitchers have posted an ERA of 5.40, averaging about 5 2/3 innings. They posted quality starts in five of the 10 games, but only one starter -- Jon Lester on May 10 against the Blue Jays -- earned a win. Before that they posted an ERA of 3.05, averaging about 6 1/3 innings with quality starts in 16 of 32 games. Starters earned wins in 17 games.

 

  • In the last 10 games, the pitching staff has posted a combined 5.52 ERA, giving up  62 runs on 101 hits with 32 walks, 89 strikeouts and 15 home runs. In 28 games prior to that, pitchers posted a combined ERA of 3.43, giving up 99 runs on 202 hits and 107 walks with 274 strikeouts and 27 home runs.

 

  • Their defense, which had been strong early in the season, has also let them down recently. In the first 17 games of the season, the Sox committed just three errors. Since then, they have committed 20 errors. Their 23 total errors are better than just four other AL teams, well behind Baltimore’s league-leading 11 errors. In the last 10 games, the Sox have committed 12 errors. In that stretch, errors have led to seven unearned runs, including four runs on Thursday in the series finale against the Twins.

 
Identifying the problems can be the easy part. Fixing them is not always as simple.
 
"I think we've got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now," manager John Farrell said. "The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control. I know with the attitude of this group, we're going to continue to work, but we're getting tested right now. There's no question about it."
 
The Sox have an off-day Monday, their last until June 3. On Tuesday, they begin a three-city, nine-game road trip, the longest of the first half, with 14 of their next 20 games on the road. There exists the school of thought that sometimes off-days come at the right time, letting a team regroup from a difficult stretch. No doubt the Sox hope that applies in this case.