McAdam: Sox skid won't last long like this

McAdam: Sox skid won't last long like this
May 10, 2013, 12:30 pm
Share This Post

No, the Red Sox are not this bad, 1-6-in-their-last-seven bad.
      
By the same token, they weren't as good as they suggested when they streaked to a 20-8 start, earning them the best record in baseball.
      
As a matter of fact, teams are seldom as good as they look when they're winning, and seldom as bad as they are when they're losing, as the Red Sox did, again, Thursday night.
      
That's not to say that there aren't some discouraging signs in the last week.
      
For one thing, there's the generally sloppy play that's been exhibited. John Lackey's throwing error in the sixth opened the way for a four-run inning for the Minnesota Twins, turning what had been a one-run lead into a three-run deficit in a hurry.
      
Lackey's errant throw to second on what looked to be an inning-ending, rally-killing double-play ball was, in fact, one of two miscues in that inning. Catcher David Ross bemoaned his inability to properly apply a swipe tag to the plate on a sacrifice fly to right which immediately followed Lackey's gaffe.
      
That inning symbolized the Red Sox' less-than-crisp play in the last week. After committing just nine errors in their first 27 games, the Sox have bungled their way to 11 errors in their last seven games.
      
On at least two occasions, those miscues led directly to a loss. Last Saturday, Will Middlebrooks' error in Texas helped undo the Sox, and Thursday night, Lackey was equally culpable in the 5-3 setback to Minnesota.
      
It's unlikely that the Red Sox will continue such sloppy play in the field, since, only at first base could the team be considered defensively suspect.
      
Rather, the downturn in the field is cyclical, a sort of evening-out that happens over the course of a long, 162-game season.
      
Manager John Farrell said as much Thursday in his post-game press conference, when asked about the slipshod defense.
      
"I think it might be more the leveling out of the game itself," Farrell said.
      
Ironically, the area in which the Red Sox could have expected to experience some dropoff in performance -- their injury-racked bullpen -- hasn't directly failed them.
      
The past week's skid had been mostly the fault of inconsistent starting pitching, poor situational hitting (they stranded 10 more baserunners on Thursday night) and the aforementioned leaky defense.
      
Joel Hanrahan's disappearance for the next couple of months will prove problematic, since it robs the Sox of an experienced late-inning option and will force the club to find someone who can help Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa handle the seventh and eighth innings -- less the latter two have their arms fall off before the All-Star break.
      
So the Sox have suffered their slump; it's unlikely to break them or send them drifting out of contention.
      
The American League East may be competitive, but it's not full of perfect teams. Each is flawed, and none -- the Red Sox included -- seem capble of running off with the division.
      
The trick will be for teams to avoid having the inevitable rough patches turn into anything more substantial. So unless this past week is some indication that the Red Sox won't be able to make routine plays, or prove themselves incapable of ever producing a big hit with men in scoring position, their losing streak is unlikely to last long enough to doom them.