Via the Boston Herald -
Go ahead and blame the Red Sox’ train wreck of a season on an injury epidemic that has put 25 players on the disabled list.
After all, that’s the most common explanation provided by most players and manager Bobby Valentine.
But another matchup between the fast-fading Red Sox and the front-running New York Yankees brings the real problem into 20/20 focus.
It’s all about the pitching.
In the latest not-nearly-good-enough start by a Red Sox pitcher, Franklin Morales allowed four solo home runs in 51⁄3 innings last night in a 6-4 loss at Yankee Stadium. In all, the Yankees went deep five times, burying the Red Sox even deeper in both the American League East and the wild card standings.
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have been the poster boys for underachieving pitching. But as a group, Red Sox starters have a 4.84 ERA, fourth-worst in the AL and better than only the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins, each of whom are bound for losing records.
Is it any wonder the Sox, at 58-62, have won as many as four games in a row only once since the middle of June? Even if the players got along so well with Valentine that they all held hands during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a winning streak isn’t sustainable without better pitching.
“When you talk about the pitching,” Valentine said, “the only thing it has kind of stressed us on is we’ve played, I think, an abnormal amount of games where we’ve been behind early. I think it stresses the offense, and our offense has been challenged at times.”
Wasn’t it just like a year and a half ago where everyone thought the Red Sox were the best team in baseball because they had so much quality starting pitching? Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Beckett and Dice-K were their five “horses,’ if I recall correctly, back at the start of 2011. And, they were backed up by Alfredo Aceves, Tim Wakefield, Michael Bowden and Andrew Miller.
It’s amazing how south this group went, in a hurry.