So far this season has been, shall we say, “uncomfortable” for the Boston Red Sox and their fans.
The pitchers being paid tens of millions of dollars to get people out aren’t getting people out. The hitters making tens of millions of dollars aren’t hitting, and the fielders on this team supposedly built to prevent runs are seemingly providing Boston’s opponents with 30 outs a game.
Simply put, this team has been terrible.
So far this team has already gone 6-11 versus the A.L. East, 1-8 versus the Yankees and Rays (all of the games having been at home) and lost 4 of 5 games on their own field to the rival Yankees by a combined score of of 40-20. As bad as that sounds, when you consider that 9 of those 20 runs came in the very first game of the season it actually gets WORSE.
What should be absolutely frightening to Red Sox Nation is that one glance on the calender for the month of May shows it won’t get any better anytime soon.
After completion of this weekends series with the Yankees, Toronto brings one of the leagues best pitching staffs into Fenway for a 3 game set. That will be followed by a five game road trip to Detroit and New York (May 14-18), a quick two game set back in Fenway vs. the A.L. Central leading Twins, 3 games on the road in Philadelphia (May 21-23) as Inter-league play kicks off, 3 games versus Tampa @ Tropicana Field and finally closing the month with a 4 game series against the Royals back home at Fenway.
In fact, it’s not like the rest of the season gets much better for the team in terms of schedule relief. The simple fact of the matter is the Red Sox had an early schedule that put the team in the perfect position to get off to a good start, possibly even building somewhat of a little lead in the division. They played a disproportionate number of games at home, many of them against their biggest rivals.
Now, because of this squandered opportunity, they face the prospect of overcoming sizable deficits in the standings, and doing all of that work on the road. That is not good news.
This team struggled mightily on the road last season, posting a losing record. It is a team that doesn’t exactly play it’s finest baseball away from the friendly confines of Fenway Park.
They need to look no further than last season’s Tampa Bay Rays for a glimpse of what thier future may have in store for them.
A year ago, the Rays got off to the same type of bad start as the Red Sox, stumbling to a 23-27 start. From May 29 through Aug. 5, the Rays went 37-21, the third-best record in the majors, pulling within three games of the Sox and 5 1/2 of the Yankees. But then they faded, going 24-30 the rest of the way.
The Sox, a much older club, are even more unlikely to sustain such a taxing charge. This year’s Rays & Yankees do not figure to maintain their 120 win pace, but even when they come back to earth a bit it will still require the Sox to play at that kind of pace just to make up the lost ground.
The Red Sox have to get hot and they have to get hot now.
One can no longer get away with saying it’s too early for Red Sox fans to panic about their team’s struggles — and “struggles” is an understatement — at this point in the 2010 campaign.
The clock is ticking – in more ways than one.