For the past 9 games the Sox have just been holding their own while the Yankees have come roaring from behind to overtake them in the division. At this time they are tied atop the AL East with 26-11 records. The Yankees did essentially the same thing the Red Sox started out doing by winning 17 of 19 lately to accomplish this feat. Then the Sox lost the first two of the 3 game series with the Yanks to fall out of first place by a game. They did manage to squeak by and win game 3 to pull back into a tie. Last nights game saw the Sox blow a 4 run lead in the 7th after a brilliant 6 inning performance by E-Rod, perhaps his best of the season and one of the best of his career. Martinez managed to hit a homer in the top of the 8th that was just inches beyond the outstretched glove of Judge in right field. They won yet another one run game 5-4.
The pen has been struggling lately, especially Hembree and Kelly, who managed to give up the four runs in the 7th with only three paltry singles by the Yanks. The rest of the runs were accomplished by walks by both pitchers. Essentially, they gave the Yankees the runs allowing them to tie the score and put in jeopardy a game that should have been well in hand. Kelly did come back out in the 8th and got through a scoreless inning, while allowing two bases runners and again making it look scary and interesting. He did look more like his old self in the 8th, but what happened in the 7th is anybody’s guess. Maybe he was afraid to face the best hitters for the Yankees as he did not use the fastball he is known for much and consequently walked too many hitters. He must have thought the big hitters for the Yankees would hit his fastball, but he couldn’t throw his off pitches for strikes. Go figure?
Still, the Sox are doing fine for now. The Yankees are bound to cool off some but it still looks like it will be quite a race from here on out. The Red Sox need to win more games as playing .500 baseball will not keep them in or near the lead in the division. They have led almost all the way so far. I would hate to see them fall out of contention after the great start they got off to. They need to work just a little harder to win more games as they have lost a few close ones lately.
The pitching is what is in need of the most work. They need to get back to where they were at the start of the season as the staff has been the downfall of the team of late. Price seems to be injured (carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps from playing video games, though he denies it) and has pitched worse than I have ever seen him in his last two starts. He gave up 9 runs in his last start and I have never seen him do that before. Still, he is starting Saturday. Let’s hope he can return to form and pitch the way we are used to seeing him pitch. The Sox really need the boost a good outing by Price would provide.
Sale has been doing pretty well, although he has not really dominated the way he did the first half of last season. Porcello has been outstanding, though two nights ago against the Yankees he gave up 5 in the worst outing he has had this year. He also broke his streak of the Sox winning 26 straight games when he pitches and the team scores more than three runs. They lost that one 9-6 and he gave up more than half the runs. Let’s hope he is not on a downward swing, but can shake it off and get back to what we all know he can do and has done in his previous starts this season.
As for the other two starters we will have to wait and see. E-Rod had a great game last night and things are looking good for him if he can keep it going. Pomeranz has been struggling and although he looked better in his last start, his velocity is still down and he needs some giddy-up on his fastball to get hitters out. He has improved, so maybe he will continue to get better and return to last years form.
The bullpen has potential to be great, but has struggled lately. We will have to wait and see how things turn out. Let’s hope they can all pitch up to their potential and can get the job done the rest of the way in late innings. Kimbrel proved once again that he is a 9th inning man by not being able to shut down the Yankees in the 8th inning night before last. They scored 4 runs after he came in the game and the Sox lost that one. I don’t think he is an 8th inning pitcher and has never in hs career had more than a 4 out save. Cora needs to rethink using him in the 8th at all. He is great in 9th, none better, but in the 8th, not so much. We have seen that from him before.
So, the Sox need to get moving again after playing .500 ball for the past 18 games or so. If the pitching looks up again, the team will do better. We have a long way to go, but the Yankees have caught up. We need to play well to keep pace with them. Still we have a long way to go and we can’t let things get bad now, right! Anyway, Go Sox!