It must be nice to be a Baltimore Orioles fan.
I mean, why not, right? The Orioles have a potent, young team, made some key acquisitions in the offseason and have pick of the litter when it comes to the seating options in Camden Yards. Enter here a blah, blah, blah complaint about currently having the worst record in the majors but in all actuality the Orioles are in a much better position than a couple of teams in the American League.
The Boston Red Sox, insert groans here, are one of those teams.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein gave New Englanders the motto of “pitching and defense” during the winter that included promises of a better Sox team, even though on paper, most of us knew better. And now, just 25 games in, Sox fans are pushing every panic button they can lay their hands on. Rightfully so, if you ask me, approximately six hours after a sweep courtesy of the statistically worst team in the MLB.
So who’s to blame? Is it Boston’s new “big three” of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey? Not one of the trio has an ERA that stands below a 4, nor more than two wins. In fact, pitching as a whole has been pretty ugly for Boston. The Red Sox’ team ERA stands at a discouraging 4.78, 23rd amongst all major league teams. They’ve given up 29 home runs already, sixth highest in the league while they stand in the middle of the pack with a total of 178 strikeouts.
Maybe it’s more than that. How about the Red Sox defense that has a fielding percentage of .980 that sits in the bottom ten in the majors? Pair that with the seventh-most committed errors in the league and suddenly, Epstein’s offseason quip seems to lack less punch than originally expected.
Pitching and defense, right?
To be fair, newcomer John Lackey has seemed to stabilize with two back-to-back solid outings after suffering a huge loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 19. Lackey gave up eight earned runs in a matter of three and a third innings of work striking out only three. The righty started off the year well with a strong first game against the New York Yankees and following with his first win against the Minnesota Twins.
Lester, too, seems to have gotten better, earning his first win this season with a one-hit, 11-strikeout performance against the Toronto Blue Jays. The seven-inning outing was his longest of five this season and without question, his most dominant. Beckett hasn’t been great by any means, but has been able to at least go seven innings in four of his six starts. The other two games, a three-inning, eight earned-run performance against Toronto and a season-opening stinker against the Yankees have been pretty poor.
Aside from that, not much to write home about if your a Red Sox fan. It’s difficult to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka continue to disappoint. His debut back with the Boston club on Saturday turned out to be a pitiful outing four and two-thirds innings and six earned runs later. The amount of walks and home runs given up were still an issue as were Matsuzaka’s ability to go deep in the game.
Troubling, as well, to see defensive “gems” such as Adrian Beltre have a .921 fielding percentage. He leads all starters in this category as do his five errors. In 19 games less, Beltre’s predecessor, Mike Lowell has zero errors and a pristine fielding percentage. Wasn’t Beltre supposed to be an improvement at the hot corner? It doesn’t help either that defensive catalysts Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are still on the disabled list.
Too early to start worrying about the Boston Red Sox? If you’re a Boston fan with a pulse, then it’s not. Although Sox captain Jason Varitek, seems to think differently.
“We haven’t quite clicked, but we’re better than our record. And we will be better.”
Maybe, but when you’re 25 games in, under .500, and you just got swept on the road against the worst team in the league–watch out.
I envy Baltimore sometimes.