Boston's offensive troubles have continued straight into July, it seems, as they proved incapable of hitting even Edwin Jackson in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Look, I can save us all quite a bit of time and trouble: the Red Sox are awful, and they were awful tonight.
That is pretty much the situation in a nutshell. A dropoff was to be expected from the 2013 World Series team, but going from a top-tier offense to the dead-ball era atrocity that we're being treated to day in and day out is a bit much.
One measly run. That's all that a lineup featuring Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli managed against Edwin Jackson, who entered the game with an ERA over 5.00. The sad thing is that you can still see the ghost of the old team. They're still third in the game in terms of drawing walks, and they did that tonight against Edwin Jackson. But four free passes means little when the team cannot otherwise hit the ball out of the infield. For some reason, solid contact simply eludes even those who were so capable of putting the bat on the ball last year, and when they do get a knock, they somehow manage to run into outs on the basepaths.
It's beyond frustrating. It devalues games like yesterday's, where Jake Arrieta was so legitimately impressive against them. It suggests that it's not a matter of who's playing against them--the Red Sox simply will find a way to not hit. Eight runs against the Yankees are all well and good, but not if they're massive outliers in an otherwise barren wasteland of ones, twos, and so often zeroes.
We might say the same about the Cubs, re: Clay Buchholz six innings of one-run baseball. But that would be unfair to Buchholz. He was a little all over the place in terms of command tonight. In the past, when he was only throwing fastballs, that might have been a recipe for disaster. But because Buchholz was able to mix in his changeup and curveball, avoiding predictability while also living close enough to the zone to still tempt hitters, some amount of wildness was not a deal breaker here. He did surrender his one run of the night immediately after the Red Sox scored in oh-so-appropriately tragic fashion, but it was the one major blemish on a generally very positive night of pitching. If you've already started--or even finished--divorcing yourself from this season in terms of standings and results, then that alone might well place this game firmly in the positive column.
But if you're still hoping to see the Red Sox walk through that door to replace whatever it is that's been taking the field since that ten-game losing streak started well over a month ago, then tonight was just that much more salt in the wound. What's worse, the loss ultimately falls on the shoulders of Koji Uehara who, after being so reliable dating back to last year, has looked downright vulnerable in these past couple of weeks. It's bad news for the Red Sox whether because they can't afford to lose games, or because it hurts one of their most valuable trade chips.
But this game is not Koji's fault. This game was not about one run in the ninth. It wasn't about Dustin Pedroia being called out--even after review--on a close play at first, regardless of the fact that it was the last out of the game. No, this was about one run against Edwin Jackson and the Chicago bullpen. It was about an offense that's barely had a heartbeat for a month now. That's what this game was about, and that's what has come to represent this season as a whole. The year the bats went away.