This Red Sox team hardly resembles the one that earned those rings

Rob Bradford
April 09, 2019 - 5:50 pm

"1:10: Reminder of how good we are." -- The message on the clubhouse door prior to the Red Sox' home opener.

The reminder didn't take.

The rings. The Patriots. The alumni from past world championship teams. The video board montages. The standing ovations. 

The reality was that whatever happened between 1-2 p.m. Tuesday had little to nothing to do with the 2019 Red Sox. What we have watched through the first 12 games has little semblance to that story that was revisited prior to what would be a 7-5 Blue Jays win over the Red Sox. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Mookie Betts did hit a home run. So there was that. Mitch Moreland also continued his march to a potential a second straight All-Star Game appearance with his fourth homer of the season. And Xander Bogaerts' eighth-inning two-out double, scoring J.D. Martinez (who had also doubled with two outs) offered the same kind of resiliency we witnessed a season ago.

Other than those moments, finding the kind of 2018 mirror images many thought would re-emerge upon landing in Boston were really, really hard to find.

The most obvious difference was perhaps the most disconcerting one for the Red Sox -- Chris Sale.

The Sox starter initially offered some optimism, coming out of the gate with a fastball that sat between 92-94 mph, a significant upgrade. But both the velocity and results didn't last. Sale would finish his third start of the season giving up five runs on seven hits over just four innings, throwing 76 pitches.

There were just three strikeouts, with Sale not getting the first swing and miss on a fastball until his 83rd heater of the season. And then there was how the Blue Jays scored their fifth run.

The punctuation to the awkward image regarding the Sox' ace came in the fourth inning when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. swiped home with Sale pitching out the windup with two outs and the hosts clinging to a two-run lead. Sale reacted far too late, sailing a fastball outside the right-handed hitter's batter's box, leaving both the pitcher and his catcher, Christian Vazquez with the kind of defeated looks rarely found in 2018.

This has not been a team oozing with panache, as was evident by the mass of media choosing to hinge on Manny Ramirez's every word in the back of the press box while Sale was struggling. Another example? By the time the Red Sox entered the ninth inning still within striking distance at a run the Fenway Park fans thinned out to early 1960's levels.

Those who did stay got a chance to see the final difference: Betts this time striking out to end the game with the tying run at first on a 3-2 pitch.

Seeing Gronk and the rings, beating traffic and finding warmth ultimatley won out over what is now a 3-9 baseball team. At this point, it was probably the right choice.

USA Today Sports

Pedroia ended up going 1-for-4, collecting a leadoff single in the ninth inning.l