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The Red Sox Once Again Avoid Falling To .500 Thanks To A Couple Bombs By Their Outfielders

Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals

I’m trying my best to not get sucked into a black hole of pessimism when it comes to this 2017 Red Sox team, but hear me out real quick.

The Red Sox won last night. That’s a good thing. But I still didn’t feel all that great after the game. It’s not that the Red Sox played sloppy last night, either. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s just hard to get all excited about a win when the feeling afterwards was basically, “Oh, cool. They avoided falling to .500 again.” That’s all that win was to me — saving themselves from being a .500 team 38 games into the season.

There are still plenty of games left, but we’re in mid-May, and they’ve yet to really go on a run here. Their longest winning streak has been four games in a row, and I’m surprised it’s even that high because it definitely doesn’t feel like it. They’ve only gotten as high as four games over .500 when they were 10-6 back on April 20. Thirty-eight games into the season last year, the Red Sox were 24-14, so this year’s team is four wins off that pace.

Not trying to be all doom and gloom after a win, but my main point here is that they’re due for a run. They’ve been painfully mediocre all year. Not terrible, but certainly not good either, and it’s been frustrating as hell to watch, especially after all the hype in the offseason. And to be honest, I think the hype was well merited. They’ve had their injuries, sure, but what team hasn’t? It’s time for the guys that have been here all year to actually start pulling their weight. I’m looking at you, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Hanley Ramirez, and Mitch Moreland.

The overall offensive numbers have been deceiving. The Red Sox are fourth in the majors in batting average (.269) and fifth in on-base percentage (.341). That’s great, but they’re 17th in slugging percentage (.410). The Red Sox have 346 hits this season, and 234 of them have been singles. That’s 68% of their hits, which is why they’re among the league leaders in batting average and on-base percentage, yet they’re 16th in runs scored (171). They’re getting plenty of guys on base, but nobody is driving them in.

The Red Sox finally got some thump in their lineup recently, though, because Mookie Betts is hitting .371 with a 1.393 OPS, 5 doubles, 5 homers, 11 runs and 14 RBI in his last 8 games. This is exactly what they’ve needed; I just wish that he were doing this in the three or four spots in the lineup so that all these singles were actually turning into runs. Instead, we’re getting leadoff homers from Mookie, which are fine, but I’d obviously much rather see him blasting three-run homers than leadoff homers.

Bradley homered for the second time in his last six games and went 2-for-3 to get that batting average back up to .200, which I guess is a positive. Setting that bar real low here, but it’s a start. I still think he’ll get hot and go on his customary one-month rampage, but the team could use that sooner rather than later. And I think we all know by now that he’s probably the most wildly inconsistent offensive performer in that starting lineup, but his power has always been consistent.

Even when Bradley’s struggling to collect his base hits, he’ll still mix in a steady diet of homers. Since the start of last year, Bradley is third in the majors among the 24 centerfielders who have played at least 140 games at the position in slugging percentage (.469). Only Charlie Blackmon (.566) and Mike Trout (.585) have been better.

And in a season that was supposed to feature Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello as your three-headed monster in the rotation, the second best starter in that rotation has been — drumroll please — Eduardo Rodriguez! After giving up four earned runs in his first start of the season, Rodriguez has turned in six consecutive starts where he’s allowed three earned runs or less.

His 3.05 ERA is almost a full run better than Porcello’s (4.01), and his K/9 (10.23) is slightly less than Drew Pomeranz’s (10.32) for the second best on the staff. The Red Sox are now 5-2 in games that have been started by Rodriguez this year. Compare that to last year when the Red Sox were 3-4 through Rodriguez’s first seven starts, while he had pitched his way to a 7.18 ERA and a demotion to the minors.

Final score: Red Sox 6, Cardinals 3