Tell me if you've heard this one before: The Red Sox' starting pitcher gave up a ton of runs and, despite making a valiant attempt, the offense could not quite engineer a comeback.
It's been the same story for about a week now, as the Red Sox have lost game after game after game, surrendering 69 runs over the course of just eight matches. Josh Beckett's seven earned against the Blue Jays is really just the latest installment of a week-long series of mediocrity. Earlier, I speculated that this might have to do with Curt Young's approach to getting pitchers ready for the season, but now I'm starting to wonder if we're even looking in the right places for the problems. Here's what the combined line of the starting pitchers looks like over that period:
38 innings pitched, 55 hits, 43 runs, 31 earned runs, 13 walks, 28 strikeouts, 12 home runs.
A few things stand out here.
First, there's the unearned runs. With 12 in just over four games' worth of innings, the Sox would likely be on pace to set a modern day record for most unearned runs in a season. To give you an idea of how common the unearned variety are, no team had even 100 last year. The Sox starters, in a season's worth of innings, would have around 500.
Then there's the home runs. At around 2.5 per nine innings, the Sox have a rate well over that of the most home run prone team in 2010. Not since 2004 has a team even had a rate half that of the Sox' over the past eight games. It's not like the Sox are even giving up a ton of fly balls, either--in fact, in many of the games, they've been quite groundball prone. In the game where Clay Buchholz allowed four, for instance, only one of his outs came via the flyball--typically the batted ball least likely to result in a hit, if more dangerous due to the types of hits.
When you add in a solid 2:1 K:BB ratio, this whole thing just doesn't pass the sniff test. What is to blame? Without actually going back and dissecting every game over the period, the implications are bad luck on batted balls, and bad defense, with maybe some questionable pitching in the mix. Of course, we shouldn't have bad defense. It might not be the best in the league, but it's another failed sniff test that a team featuring players like Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia is really that deficient.
It's hard not to be concerned given all the bad results we've seen over the past week. It's hard to remind ourselves that this is always just spring training. But even with all the horrible results we've had of late, it's still a clean slate come April 1, and these pitchers are not all 9.00 ERA dogs.