As the Major League baseball season concludes its first week, the Boston Red Sox are off to about the worst start they could have imagined. Beyond their 2-5 record, which means next to nothing at this point, the Red Sox lost five of their first six games including four in a row. The Red Sox did not lose more than three games in a row at any point during the 2018 season.
Such is the life for the defending World Series champions.
Boston was perceived to have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and with a bullpen that lost both Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly the conventional wisdom is that the Red Sox were only going to go as far as their rotation could take them. Yet through seven games, the Red Sox has a team ERA of 5.74 including games in which they’ve given up at least 10 runs twice. One of the concerns is Chris Sale. Despite delivering the Red Sox first quality start on April 2, allowing one run in six innings, Sale’s average velocity was the lowest of his career. Due to their record, it has yet to be seen how Alex Cora plans on handling the ninth inning, particularly since the Red Sox have still shown no inkling to sign veteran Kimbrel who anchored their bullpen in 2018.
The team batting average is .233 and the team was shut out in back-to-back games. Absent from the team is the clutch hitting that defined their 2018 season.
The schedule makers certainly did not do the Red Sox any favors. They have started the season on an 11-day road trip that started in Seattle, went to Oakland and will now move to Detroit before playing their home opener on Tuesday, April 9 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox have done a good job of trying to eliminate the distractions of expiring contracts that were starting to become an issue. The club extended both pitcher Chris Sale and shortstop Xander Bogearts leaving Mookie Betts as the biggest player with a possible extension, but with Betts under contract through 2021, that’s a decision that can wait until the offseason.
With the New York Yankees being bitten by the injury bug early in the season, the Red Sox still look to be in good shape in a division where the talented, but young, Tampa Bay Rays may present the most serious challenge. However, repeating as World Series champions is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sports when everything goes right. In the early season, the Red Sox certainly know that pennants aren’t won in April, but they can be lost.