It's April 20th and business as usual in Red Sox Nation.
Everyone is freaking out. Theo, Tito, and the entire Red Sox Organization should apparently be fired. The team has lost a disastrous 5 in a row, and no have no chance of winning more than 153 games this year.
In seriousness, everyone has been slumping. The pitching hasn't looked good. The offense has been atrocious. The much-vaunted defense has looked clumsy. And now we're playing against the rangers, who were 7-2 against the Red Sox last year.
But hold on. Before you jump, lets remember that this Rangers team is currently sitting at last place in the West, in the midst of a 4 game losing streak.
So let's take a quick look at the series up ahead- remember, this early in the season, no one is more than a good week away from a decent record.
So far, this Rangers team has been very different from the Rangers of the past. The pitching has been doing a decent job, while the offense has just been atrocious.
think the Sox have been slumping? Here are the teams average lines for the year so far:
RANGERS: .241/.301/.376/.677 10 Home Runs
RED SOX: .249/.313/.426/.739 with 15 Home Runs
Haven't been hitting a ton more than them, but at least the Sox have shown some power over the first couple of weeks (and let's remember, they've been playing half their games at Arlington).
Alright, the numbers aren't incredibly different, but when we're slumping this badly, our offense looking better than anyone says a lot about them.
Their power-hitting second baseman (who OPSed 1.053 against the Sox last year) is on the disabled list. Their center fielder who has been leading off is hitting just .083 at this point. Their primary catcher has yet to get a base hit in his 23 plate appearances so far (he's making Bill Hall look like a slugger). Their one huge offensive contributor so far (Nelson Cruz) is currently sporting an OPS about .500 above his career average and is bound to come crashing back to earth sooner rather than later.
So yes, the Sox are having problems, but the Rangers aren't looking a whole lot better at the plate.
Now, this next sentence it going to feel particularly weird to type. As much as the Sox have struggled with pitching at the beginning of the year, this is where Texas has had some success. Most notable of that has been the guy we're facing off today, Colby Lewis, so lets take a quick look at him.
So far, he's looked great for Texas in his first MLB appearances since going to Japan for 2 years. He's gone 2-0 so far with just a 2.19 ERA, BUT, his peripherals tell a different story- specifically the story of a pitcher who has, to date, been very lucky. While he's struck out a respectable 13 batters in his 12.1 innings, he's also walked 8. He's carried an unrealistically low .269 BABIP through his first two games, and has yet to give up a homer run, despite have a 50% fly ball rate. He is about due, and it's time for the Red Sox to bring his numbers more in line with what they should be. In total, he's let 17 men on base in just 12.1 innings, but opposing teams (specifically the powerhouses in Cleveland and Seattle) have only turned 3 of these into runs. If the Boston bats perform half as well as they should, there should be no issue getting plenty of runs on the board against him.
Now, it's not all rosy. On the mound going against him today, we've got our beloved Wake who, for all of his good, has struggled against the Rangers. He's gone a total of 10-15 against them in his career. The upside? he's 5-12 against them in Arlington, meaning at Fenway, he's actually gone 5-3. Not so bad. Their biggest new acquisition, Vlad Guerrero, has hit Wake quite well in the past, but apart form him and Cruz, their offense has looked relatively anemic. I remember the beginning of last year, Wake seemed to have an ability to flourish when the rest of the team was struggling, so lets hope that he can once again, pull through for the Sox and shut down the Rangers. I think this is a great comeback series, especially with Baltimore immediately following.
And now to confuse this mainly optimistic look at the series ahead, I'm going to post a depressing offensive fact for the day:
So far in 2010, Victor Martinez has already grounded into 6 double plays. That's the total amount of double plays he grounded into for the Red Sox in 2009.