Red Sox

Drellich: Polarizing Red Sox hitters hard to believe in, but effective

Drellich: Polarizing Red Sox hitters hard to believe in, but effective

BALTIMORE _- The Red Sox offense is not easy to buy into visually. It’s not built around power. There’s been a lot of change on the infield, and that might continue. There are still some question marks with folks like Pablo Sandoval, who homered Friday night. 

The results have also been rather polarized of late.

Rick Porcello again received little run support Friday night because the Orioles’ Alec Asher, the great Alec Asher, was on the mark.

“Give credit to Asher,” Sox manager John Farrell said after a 3-2 loss. “We had one baserunner through five innings and that's Panda’s [Pablo Sandoval’s] solo home run. He pitched to all four quadrants of the strike zone. He elevated his fastball to the guys in our lineup where the scouting report is there. He pitched to a scouting report. And when we did hit anything hard it was right at somebody. Mookie [Betts] squares up a couple of balls to lead things off. But we couldn't get anything going.”

It’s been said in this space before, and will continue to be emphasized: a team that starts the day third in batting average and fourth in on-base percentage is a good hitting team. One of the best.

Where the Sox have lacked is in the power department, with a below league average slugging percentage. They came into Friday 18th, at .412. In the month of May, they were 12th at .440.

But there’s been some pretty outright polarizing performances in the last two weeks, and two losses to begin a big four-game series against the Orioles exacerbates a feeling that the Sox can look brutally futile sometimes.

Here are some average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage lines going into Friday from the past 14 days:

Andrew Benintendi: .205/.283/.231
Deven Marrero: .190/.244/.405
Sandy Leon: .190/.261/.238
Mookie Betts: .189/.295/.358


And here are some numbers that are a bit more encouraging:

Christian Vazquez: .429/.448/.571
Mitch Moreland .375/.432/.656
Xander Bogaerts .327/.368/.500
Jackie Bradley Jr. .278/.422/.611

Dustin Pedroia was doing well, but he’s on the disabled list. Chris Young and Sam Travis give the Sox a stronger presence against lefthanders, but Hanley Ramirez hasn’t been the force the Sox need him to be overall. He hasn’t been bad, but the Sox would welcome a tear.

It adds up to an all-or-nothing perception. But if you’re looking at just games teams lose, the Red Sox still have the sixth best average in the majors, the eighth best OBP.

“Just got to continuously make opportunities,” Bradley said. “We weren’t out of the game. We were right there in it pretty much throughout the whole game. We just weren’t able to get enough runs to edge them out tonight.”

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.