Red Sox Wilt Against Pitching Gauntlet

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 9: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox walks back to the dugout after grounding out during the sixth inning of interleague play against the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park on June 9, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

It's been an ugly few days for Boston's lineup. Over the last five games, the Sox have managed all of 12 runs, with their highest output being four last Friday.

It's no great surprise that the results have not been positive: one win in five tries, leaving the team back below .500.

While it's a discouraging performance from the offense, at the very least it comes with some sort of explanation: the opposing pitching has been unreal.

Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle. Any one of those five is a tough matchup. All five in a row? It's a bit much.

Between the five of them, there are three FIPs under 3.00 (all five are under 4.00), three ERAs under 3.00, and 9.7 fWAR 40% of the was through the season. As a five-man unit, the only rotation that they don't beat out is the one which features three of them.

Still, that's not to say that the Red Sox did a particularly good job even given the competition. Instead of doing what you might expect one of the better lineups to do against one of the better rotations--that is, to bring their numbers down (or, rather, up) a bit. Instead, the Sox underperformed. Their collective ERA of 3.10? Against the Sox it was 2.70. The 1.19 WHIP? The Sox only managed 0.93. They struck out 36 times in 33 innings, and drew just 8 walks.

Last year, even when hurt, this Sox lineup made a habit of taking it to some of the best starters in the game. While they've done that once this year with Justin Verlander (and perhaps Doug Fister, though he quickly found his way to the disabled list), with the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury and diminished performances from the likes of Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and of course Adrian Gonzalez, they're not really coming close.

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