Red Sox

Call this miserable MLB season now, because Red Sox aren't going anywhere

Red Sox

The beauty of a 60-game season is that it's over before you know it.

The Red Sox should be thankful.

Exactly one-sixth of the way through this truncated 2020 campaign, the Red Sox find themselves looking up at the rest of the American League. If the AL expanded its playoff field to 14 teams, the Red Sox still wouldn't be guaranteed a spot, instead trying to win a three-way tiebreaker of futility with the Angels and Royals.

Their 3-7 record is the worst in the AL, trailing the Orioles, who aren't trying, the Rangers, who aren't scoring, and the Tigers, who aren't much of anything.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

On Sunday night, the Red Sox dropped their toughest contest yet, a 9-7 loss to the Yankees that wasn't decided until Aaron Judge blasted the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth to propel New York to a three-game sweep.

It was actually one of Boston's better efforts, thanks to two homers from Xander Bogaerts and another from Rafael Devers, but if the Red Sox have proven anything over the first 10 games, it's that they can find new ways to lose on a nightly basis.

Usually their losses are over before they start, thanks to a beer league pitching staff that excels at digging 5-0 holes. On those rare occasions when the staff keeps things close, the bats fall limp. There have also been issues on the bases and in the field.

On Sunday, the Red Sox overcame Matt Hall's three-run second and two-run third to take leads of 2-0, 5-3, 6-5, and 7-6. They chased Yankees starter James Paxton after three innings and had things perfectly set up for their beleaguered bullpen, with Heath Hembree, Marcus Walden, and Matt Barnes aligned to hand the ball to closer Brandon Workman in the ninth.

 

They never got there, because Barnes walked No. 9 hitter Mike Tauchman with two outs in the eighth and watched him steal second before scoring on a single by D.J. LeMahieu. That set the stage for Judge, who did not miss Barnes' hanging curveball, depositing it 468 feet away and sending the Red Sox into a deeper tailspin.

"Anytime you lose a game like this, it's tough," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We played really well offensively, got some big hits from Bogey, a couple of bombs, and Devers, a nice swing on his. We did a lot of good things offensively. So anytime time you lose when you're doing that much offensively, it's a tough loss. It's tough, too, when you know you've got it set up how you want to, you've got a lead going into the eighth with Barnes and Workman, and you feel great about that, and it didn't work out."

The nature of this season is such that even a three-game winning streak could improve a team's playoff standing significantly. The Red Sox have shown no signs of being that team, and their task won't get any easier when they open a two-game set in Tampa on Tuesday.

If they're demoralized, it's hard to blame them. From effectively firing manager Alex Cora to trading Mookie Betts to watching one ace (Chris Sale) undergo Tommy John surgery and another (Eduardo Rodriguez) shut it down with a COVID-related heart condition, not much has gone the team's way since the end of the 2019 season.

This slow start, in retrospect, should've felt inevitable.

"It's definitely surprising," Barnes said. "Anytime you come into a season wearing a Red Sox uniform, you expect you're going to be at the top of the division. We can't look back on what's happened so far. We've got 50 games left, we go rattle off a really good streak out of 50, which this team is absolutely capable of doing, going off and rattling off 35, 40 out of 50. Let's get hot and make a push at this thing. I think that's the only way to do it. You can't look back on what's happened, you've got to kind of look forward, kind of figure out what we've got going on and move on from there."

Kudos to Barnes for his optimism, but it's misplaced, because it feels like the Red Sox are already playing out the string.

At least it will be over quickly.