SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 30: Will Middlebrooks #64 of the Boston Red Sox strikes out to end the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 30, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It's been a terrible week for Red Sox fans.
It's one thing for a team to go 2-5. That happens to every team from time-to-time, but the Red Sox made it excruciating.
For a team that is somehow still one of the leaders in runs scored, allowing all of 17 runs in seven games should be enough to guarantee a winning record, if not six or seven victories.
Instead, the Sox took the best efforts of their pitchers and completely wasted them.
How bad were they? Let us count the ways the Red Sox failed.
In 66 innings the Sox picked up 48 hits and 18 walks, good for a WHIP of exactly 1.00. The team with the lowest WHIP on the season is the Nationals, with 1.20.
With runners in scoring position, the Sox were even worse, hitting an impressive .114 with five knocks in 44 at bats.
Of 24 batters who reached base without an out in the inning, the Sox scored all of seven. Five times the Sox had two runners reach with zero outs and failed to bring either man across. For the record, with a runner on first and no outs, at least one run scores 44% of the time. The Sox managed just 25% of the time even including the inning led off with a homer. With a runner on first and zero outs, a team's run expectancy is .94. With runners on first and second and no outs, the team's run expectancy is 1.56.
Including only innings where the Sox had leadoff baserunners that weren't homers, the Sox should have scored some 18 or 19 runs. They managed five.
It wasn't all about bad hitting for Boston, though. Sometimes it was bad luck. 16 times the Red Sox hit into outs with line drives. With only a few more falling in than did not, the Sox didn't exactly get their money's worth when they did put the bat on the ball.
Still, they also managed to shoot themselves in the foot in some of the easiest situations. The losses from June 30th and July 3rd leap immediately to mind. In the first game, the Sox had two men on with no outs in a tied game in extra-innings. In perhaps the only situation a bunt is ever called for, Bobby Valentine instead let one of his biggest strikeout threats in Jarrod Saltalamacchia swing away despite having being in the midst of a lengthy slide at the plate. Saltalamacchia struck out, two balls in play went unrewarded, and the Sox lost in the bottom of the eleventh.
In the latter game, this time the bunt was called for, and given that it was Nick Punto at the plate, it was probably the right call. Unfortunately, the guy who is supposed to live exclusively on fundamentals popped the bunt attempt into the air, leading to a double play at first. If that weren't bad enough, Ryan Kalish then decided he was going to make the final out at third on an ill-advised stolen base attempt.
Frankly, that sort of embarrassing play was fitting given the week-at-large. Headed into an incredibly difficult month, the Red Sox were actually doing what they needed to do: putting together a long positive run to both gain in the division and build a cushion between them and the cellar, so that a month of .500 baseball would be passable.
Instead of closing that out with even just a 4-3 record on the West Coast, however, they've put themselves in some pretty dire straits. There's no relief coming in the schedule anytime soon, and even if they play a lot better over the coming few weeks there are no guarantees of success. The team wasted their opportunity, and now they have to either make up for it by going above-and-beyond as they run the gauntlet, or find themselves also-rans if they fail to do so.