Red Sox Record for the Week of April 12-19: 1-6
Remember the mostly good starting pitching, solid defense and better-than-expected offense the starting nine displayed during the first week of the season? Forget it. The players themselves sure did.
As they try and snap a five-game losing streak Tuesday night versus Texas, the Red Sox (4-9, 6 GB) are off to their worst start since going 2-11 to start the 1996 season. They're also 1-6 at Fenway, their worst home start in 78 years.
So what went so terribly wrong and what needs fixing? That’s an easy question: just about everything.
First up is Jon Lester. The lefty stud, along with the whole Sox team had the privilege of being the first visiting team to play in Minnesota's new Target Field on its Opening Day last Monday afternoon (April 5). But the Sox lost the game as they have in four other rare Opening Day games as visitors going back to the early 1900s. The score was 5-2 and Lester gave up four of the five Twins runs in five innings on 107 pitches. He fell behind in the count too often, and having thrown only 59 strikes, paid for it with Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Mauer collectively knocking in three runs in the first two innings.
Fortunately for the Twins, that was all they needed to win the first ever game at Target Field as the Sox offense scored just one run in six innings against (beatable) veteran Carl Pavano, and one more off Twins’ relief pitching in the final three innings. Lester was worse at Fenway on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay when he allowed seven earned runs in six innings. He is now 2-6 in his five-year career in March/April, with an ERA well over 5.00.
Highlight of Week Two: Okajima And Hermida Help John Lackey Get His First Boston Win
The Sox beat the Twins 6-3 Wednesday for their lone win of the week. Starter John Lackey went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two earned, but only had that line preserved when crafty lefty Hideki Okajima ended a Twins two-out, bases loaded threat in the seventh with the Sox ahead 3-2 by getting Justin Morneau to pop out.
With Jacoby Ellsbury still out, the young 26-year-old outfielder the Florida Marlins gave up on, Jeremy Hermida, has stepped in wonderfully in his absence in left field. He’s also the best lefty in the Sox lineup right now, with David Ortiz and J.D. Drew giving the Sox offense next to nothing. Hermida’s big moment in the Wednesday matinee was his three-run double in the eighth inning that made a 3-2 Sox lead more comfortable at 6-2. The Sox would need that big hit to stay ahead as the Twins got their third run in the next half inning. But that would be all for the scoring as Jonathan Papelbon saved his third game of 2010 in the ninth, and Lackey earned his first Red Sox win. That would be it for highlights as the Twins won the next game and series the next day, with an 8-0 victory.
Don’t Blame It On The Rain
With the exception of yesterday’s wrap-around finale on Patriots Day, the weather for the Sox-Rays four-game series was miserable. Friday night’s game had to be completed Saturday night because of the rain. But both teams had to play through the rain and cold, and the Sox performed much worse than anyone expected, rain or shine. The Sox, who are supposed to be an improved defensive squad over last year, couldn’t field – costly errors and botches were made by Adrian Beltre, a hurting Mike Cameron, Bill Hall, and Jeremy Hermida to name a few – or drive in more than nine total runs in the four games. They were 0-24 with RISP in the series, and even had one runner (Kevin Youkilis) thrown out at the plate over the weekend courtesy of a bad judgment call by first-year third base coach Tim Bogar.