New England Sports React

Sox Scuffling

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Frustration about the Red Sox play has gotten to everyone, including third base coach Brian Butterfield (above).

The Red Sox just can’t seem to cure their World Series hangover.

Fresh off being swept in a day-night doubleheader by the Rays (who were in last place in the AL East heading into the twin bill), the Sox remain unable to shake the inconsistencies that have plagued them since the start of the 2014 season. And the problems don’t just lie in one facet of the game; they occupy all three. Sure, they’ve had stretches where they’ve put together a couple of complete games together, but then they follow it up by resorting back to what had them reeling in the first few games. Their series victory in Toronto appeared as if it would be a turning point for the Sox, but it only proved that the team warms up with the environment.

Their pitching is by far the most inconsistent of the three facets, followed closely by defense. Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz have been the downfall of the Sox pitching staff, producing outing after outing in which they put their team behind after the first couple of innings. They aren’t locating their pitches and have a lower velocity on their fastballs (partially due to the colder weather causing baseballs to lack reasonable grip), making it easy for the hitters to lock in on them. These two will need to right the ship if the Sox want to turn their season around.

The defense is another story. While it’s improved lately with the return of Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, the Sox ‘D’ has been equivalent to that of a junior varsity squad. Lack of concentration has been the main issue, resulting in bad baseball, playing from behind, and an overall lowering of the team’s morale. A handful of Sox pitchers have lost games as a result of sloppy defense, and if it doesn’t keep improving, will continue to do so.

Like the defense, the offense has also been surprisingly off-kilter for what should be expected of them. Last year, we fans got very accustomed to the Sox playing fundamentally-sound baseball consistently throughout the season, especially offensively. This year, we’ve become nothing but frustrated by the team’s play. Their at-bats have been mediocre at best, with individuals becoming far too free-swinging. Patience and plate discipline seemed to have been thrown out the window for the majority of the first month of the season, with the offense finally starting to take pitches and work counts in the past week. Even with the change in approach, batting with runners in scoring position has been atrocious at best. No one can seem to come up with the big hit. Last year, they excelled in the category of clutch hitting. Hopefully the offense (and this team) can return to form and get back to playing Red Sox baseball. Or else.

-Ryan Hartley

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