The Boston Red Sox have not yet seemed to recover from a losing April that saw them end the month in third place in the American League East with a record of 13-14. The month of May began and brought with it a tough schedule but also a chance to redeem themselves as the calendar turns. It has not started well.
The Red Sox lost both games of their May 1 double-header to the Tampa Bay Rays by scores of 2-1 and 6-5. In fact, Game 2 saw the bullpen blow an eighth-inning lead (a rarity) when Junichi Tazawa let in the tying run Koji Uehara allowed the game-winning home run to Yunel Escobar.
Things looked better on Friday and Saturday when the Red Sox took the first two against the Oakland Athletics, who lead the A.L. West. Both the offense and the pitching returned to form as they won by scores of 7-1 and 6-3. Clay Buchholz was dominant, and Jon Lester was — well, Jon Lester — as he struck out 15, a team record for left-handed pitchers. The Red Sox came within one game of the .500 mark with those two wins.
They fell back to two under .500 on Sunday by losing to the Athletics 3-2. Granted, the Athletics have a very good pitching staff. It has allowed just 104 runs in 31 games (3.35 per game and 3.00 ERA); only Detroit’s has allowed fewer runs (103).
What do the Red Sox need to do to improve their record and their standings? MLB.com’s Ian Browne may have the answer. Brown noted on Monday that the Red Sox are only 3-8 in one-run games. Removing those games puts them three games over .500; reversing those games puts them at 18-11 and in first place. Brown quoted right fielder Shane Victorino discussing the close games that the Red Sox have played of late in which they wasted opportunities. Said Victorino,
“How many times have we had a chance in the last six games with a potential to break a game open? We haven’t been able to get that big hit.”
If and when they start getting that big hit, they will win those one-run games and make a surge in the standings.
Yes, it is still May, the Red Sox have played just five games this month, and they are still within two games of the division-leading New York Yankees. They have a tough schedule throughout May. However, the best teams win those tough games. For the Red Sox to repeat as at least division winners, they will need to win those tough games. If not, then the Red Sox may have to buy tickets to the postseason.
It is past time for the Boston Red Sox to say that the season just started and time to start playing winning baseball.
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