The Red Sox opened their three-game series against the American League’s winningest team on Tuesday night, and there’s really no spin to put on this one. Just about what you’d expect to happen is what happened.
Boston came into the series opener as the team with the worst batting average in the American League, and the second worst in all of baseball, against left-handed pitching, hitting .204 with a .605 OPS collectively. You run into a guy like Jose Quintana, a left-hander who had the longest active scoreless streak going at 16 innings, and you can’t really sit there after this loss and wonder what went wrong. It’s pretty obvious. They just can’t hit lefties, and Quintana is one of the best lefties in the game these days.
And if you go down the lineup, you’d be surprised to see that the two regulars who have had the most success against left-handed pitching for the Red Sox this year are both left-handed batters in Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz, both hitting .267 coming into the game on Tuesday. It’s a small sample size, of course, but it’s been a struggle across the board so far against lefties.
I’m not yet at that point where I’m wondering why Chris Young is even on this team. I know some of you are, but in his defense, that’s because John Farrell, for some idiotic reason, has given him 17 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, and he can’t hit right-handed pitching, so he’s looked worse than he probably should. He’s on this team to hit left-handed pitching. I am, however, wondering when the fuck he’s going to start to hit left-handed pitching, because he’s 1-for-8 when he’s gotten a start against a left-handed pitcher. If we have to suffer through his at-bats against righties, then he’d better start hitting the shit out of the ball when he gets his chances against lefties; that’s all I’m saying.
One of the topics that came up on the most recent episode of the Section 10 Podcast was whether or not we were worried about the lack of power that Hanley Ramirez has shown so far. I said no. He’s still hitting a ton of balls hard; they’ve just all been right at people, for the most part. He’s hit for a pretty decent average (.284), but everybody’s waiting for that slugging percentage to bump up. The power will come, and I’m glad that he’s not trying to pull everything like he was last year. It seemed like he was trying to put every pitch he saw onto the Mass Pike. But this year, he’s going the other way a lot, especially with pitches on the outside part of the plate, instead of trying to pull the ball, and that’s what you saw on Tuesday night when he took Quintana deep to the opposite field.
We also saw the highly-anticipated debut of Carson Smith in a Red Sox uniform. Smith was placed on the disabled list just before the season started with a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow, and was activated before Tuesday night’s game. The right-hander pitched a clean inning in the bottom of the seventh, which was capped off by a four-pitch strikeout to get Austin Jackson looking.
There had been some conspiracy theorists who wondered why the Mariners would trade such an effective reliever away at such a young age, citing that his velocity dipped toward the end of the 2015 season as reason to be skeptical, and that perhaps Seattle was aware of some elbow issues that the Red Sox were not. In the first week of August, Smith was averaging 95 MPH with his sinker, and by the last game of the season, he was at 91 MPH with that pitch. Well, conspiracy theorists be damned, because Smith’s sinker regularly clocked in at 94 MPH in his first appearance of the 2016 season last night.
Final score: Red Sox 1, White Sox 4