Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual


Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual

By Bill Chuck
Special to

Wednesdays game was unusual for the Red Sox, but not because they lost to the White Sox. Actually, that is more the usual. The Chicagoans have won their last 13-of-15 against the locals, and 9 of 10 since the start of last season.

To make it even uglier, the White Sox have had their way at Fenway seven straight times now, their longest winning streak in Boston since they also won seven in the 1958-1959 seasons. Those were the days when the White Sox had players like Jim Landis, Sherm Lollar, Early Wynn and a double-play combo of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox as they headed to the 1959 World Series. The Bostons, under Pinky Higgins, countered with Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen, Sammy White, Bill Monbouquette, and a guy named Williams in his waning days (1959 was the only season in which he hit under .300).

But that trip down memory lane doesn't address what was unusual about Wednesday's loss. You might recall that the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead through three innings. And there you have it. Hard to believe, but that ties the largest lead lost by the Red Sox this season. In this return to small-ball era, three- and four-run leads mean something. They are not that quickly eviscerated by one or two swings of performance-enhanced bats.

Here is something else unusual about Wednesdays game: the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead after three innings. That in and of itself is not that out of the ordinary, but the fact that they lost the game is odd. When the Red Sox are ahead at the start of the fourth inning, their record this season is 18-7. Thats a .720 winning percentage (overall Boston is 30-26, .536).

The White Sox scored once in the fourth, which meant Boston held a 3-1 lead heading into the fifth inning. Heres one for you: when Boston is leading at the start of the fifth, its record is 22-5 (.815). Thats a pretty powerful number.

Chicago tied the game in the fifth and the two teams were tied entering the sixth inning. That has been a bad inning for the Red Sox to have a tie game. In fact, thats the worst inning for this team to be tied.

Tied at the Start of InningWinsLossesPct.Pitcher Role13026.536Starters21715.531Starters31210.545Starters4104.714Starters564.600Starters635.375Starters754.556Set-ups841.800Set-ups9501.000Closer1022.500Bullpen1121.667Bullpen1201.000Bullpen1301.000Bullpen
The two teams exchanged runs in the sixth and were tied entering the seventh inning. You can see from the chart above, the Red Sox are now just over .500 when tied entering the stretch inning.

The Chisox scored in the seventh to take their second lead. Now a one-run deficit heading to eighth inning shouldnt be a big deal. But this is where Wednesdays unusual game became the usual.

The Red Sox have come from behind to win six games this season. The White Sox can now say they have come from behind in 8 of their 27 wins. The Yanks have overcome deficits 12 times in their 31 wins. Its 8-of-29 for the Rays.

Comebacks are exciting for fans and players alike, but they have been far and few between for the Red Sox this season. When the Red Sox fell behind, 5-4, in a game they ended up losing 7-4, it pushed their record when trailing entering the eighth to a horrifying 1-23. Just so you realize, while the Sox do have four walkoff wins this year, only one has occurred when they entered the ninth behind, where their trailing record is 1-26 (.037).

In fact, Sox fans, you better hope your team gets off to a good start in every game. Because when they are behind at the start of the fifth inning their record is a measly 2-17 (.105), and by the start of the seventh its 1-19 (.050).

In 2007, you know, the last World Championship season for Boston? That year the Red Sox had 42 comeback wins. In the miraculous year of 2004, Boston celebrated 47 comeback wins.

Were early in the season, but its never too early to have some magic. Just ask the fans in Cleveland. The Indians, playing over their heads with enthusiastic baseball, have won 33 games this season and they trailed in 15 of them.

You want something to root for? Root for a comeback to the comeback.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.