Lousy Red Sox start summed up by 1 stat, which shows how lucky they are not to be 0-3

John Tomase
March 31, 2019 - 10:26 am
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Related: Nathan Eovaldi was a savior last postseason and now Red Sox need him to be a stopper

Fact: the Red Sox have played three games so far against the Seattle Mariners, and they've held leads at the end of exactly two innings: the first in the opener and the last in Friday's 7-6 comeback.

They've trailed for 24 of the other 25 frames, which is not the best way to begin defense of a World Series title. So what gives?

Start with the starting pitching. Nathan Eovaldi delivered their "best" start and it was five innings, six runs. It came on the heels of Chris Sale's disastrous three-homer opener that saw him allow seven runs in three innings and barely break 91 mph in his final frame. Eduardo Rodriguez took the lousiness mantle on Saturday and it was the same old story that has plagued much of his career: lots of nibbling, not enough attacking, and a brutal line of eight hits and five runs in only 4.1 innings.

"We don't expect this," manager Alex Cora told reporters in Seattle after Saturday's 6-5 loss. "They're human. We know that's not going to be the norm. They're going to be OK. It's tough in the sense that we know where we're at, we know we have 11 games and we felt that the starters, they were going to give us a few innings and we'd have to mix and match with the bullpen but, you have to always try to get something positive out of the three games and I think the guys in the bullpen have shown up."

Taking positives out of a pair of losses was not the team's mantra in 2018, and it's worth noting that only a monster rally on Friday saved them from being 0-3, which is probably what their play has merited.

But the starting pitching isn't the only issue. Through three games, the Red Sox have only reached base at a .303 clip, a far cry from their halcyon "on-base machine" days. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Eduardo Nunez are off to sub-.550-OPS starts, with the offense coming primarily from catcher Christian Vazquez and DH J.D. Martinez, with one very well-time three-run homer from pinch hitter Mitch Moreland.

This can all go away with a solid outing from Rick Porcello in Sunday's Seattle finale and another from David Price on Monday in Oakland, but for now the Red Sox are lucky to be 1-2, because they've trailed for virtually the entire season.

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