Well, this is just the worst. It is decidedly not fun to watch the Red Sox play baseball right now, and once again the offense was shut down. It’s still not even close to panic time or anything like that with this team, but it is time for frustrated yelling. Just don’t do it too loudly because the neighbors are trying to sleep.
This may sound familiar, but the Red Sox offense was once again disappointing. This was a different kind of frustrating day for Boston’s lineup, as they had a nice combination of bad contact and bad luck. To make matters even worse and more confusing, they were going up against Jason Vargas. On the one hand, the southpaw has been very good this year. The Red Sox certainly aren’t the only team to struggle against him, which is why he just made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. On the other hand, he just looks like a guy this team should have crushed.
To be fair, they did make some good contact on him. It wasn’t consistent enough, to be sure, but there were plenty of hard hit balls that just so happened to be hit right at the defense. More often, though, it seemed like it was untimely pop ups and ground outs. In terms of pop ups, once again those belonged to Mookie Betts and Chris Young. With Betts specifically, he’s simply too good to be hitting like this but these pop ups have been a problem for over a month now. At this point I’m not sure what you can do but just hope he hits his way out of it. They certainly weren’t the only hitters with bad days, though Dustin Pedroia made some big outs in big situations while Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez both went hitless as well.
If you’re looking for bright spots, there weren’t many but they did exist. Eduardo Nuñez certainly stood out in that regard, reaching base in each of his first three plate appearances with his new team. In fact, the guy with a 3.8 percent walk rate drew a walk in his first plate appearance in a Red Sox uniform because baseball consistently makes no sense. In addition to Nuñez, Devers had another nice showing in his second at bat. After striking out in a bad at bat his first time up, he came back in his next chance against Vargas and ripped a double down the first base line. It was exactly the kind of quick adjustment you look for from young players. Devers also flashed some nice leather with a slick diving stop at the hot corner.
In terms of specific failures, the Red Sox really didn’t even get many chances to do any damage. They got a couple on in the third inning and have Pedroia a chance to tie a then 1-0 game with two outs, but the second baseman grounded out to end the inning. The fifth was when Devers hit his double, which came with one out. After Sandy Leon lined out for the second out, Betts did come through with a big hit to give Boston their first run of the game. Nuñez followed that up with a single of his own to once again put two on with two outs for Pedroia. Once again, Pedroia grounded out to end the rally.
They’d get another run in the seventh when Chris Young led the inning off with a triple. You’d obviously like that kind of start to translate into more than just one run, but Devers struck out and Leon knocked in the run with a groundout, so there wasn’t much of a rally there.
On the mound, Rick Porcello got the start in place of the scratched David Price. The 2016 Cy Young winner had been on something of a roll of late although he’s gotten used to pitching without any run support. On Friday, he was solid enough and probably better than his line might suggest, but he certainly wasn’t perfect.
Porcello gave up two big hits in this game, and that was enough to put Kansas City over the top on Friday night. To make matters even more frustrating, neither were on terrible pitches. The first came in the second inning to notorious bad-ball hitter Salvador Perez. Porcello threw the Royals catcher a fastball down and out of the zone, but he was ready for that spot and golfed it over everything in left field. The pitch was likely a bit more flat than what Porcello was intending to throw, but mostly it was a fantastic piece of hitting by a very good hitter. That swing gave the Royals an early 1-0 lead.
The other mistake came in the top half of the fourth, and this was more frustrating to watch as a Red Sox fan. This inning started with a single and was followed by a fielder’s choice and another single to give Kansas City runners on the corners with one down. That brought Mike Moustakas to the plate, and the Royals third baseman put up a hell of a battle against Porcello. The Sox starter couldn’t find a way to put him away, and finally threw an inside fastball that he left a little too high in the zone and Moustakas yanked it over the fence in the right field corner. This wasn’t a great pitch, but it was still frustrating as it was a true Fenway home run as it likely would’ve flown foul in most other parks around the league.
Other than those two swings, Porcello displayed solid enough command and his stuff was...sharp enough. That certainly isn’t the highest praise, but he didn’t earn that. He was fine, and the offense needs to step up and give him a little support at some point soon, but Porcello was simply okay rather than good in this game.
On a more positive note, Brandon Workman came on in relief for the eighth and once again looked outstanding. I’m still expecting a new reliever to be brought in, but with or without that addition Workman figures to be a big part of this bullpen moving forward.
At some point the offense is going to start hitting. Or, at least, that’s what we have to believe because if not then what’s even the point of watching? There’s just too much talent here for this kind of performance to keep up. And yet, there’s not too many signs of turning things around. The biggest hope right now is that Nunez and Devers can inject some new life into this lineup. If not, well, just keep going with the frustrated yelling because there’s not much else we can do. This team has now lost five of their last six and have fallen out of first place. They’ll look to turn things around on Saturday night against Trevor Cahill. Boston will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the bump.