Red Sox

Red Sox

The Red Sox aren't going to win with pitching. We've known this since February. We did expect them to slug their way to victories, though, which means they can say goodbye to the playoffs if they don't escape their current offensive drought.

Since scoring 13 runs on opening night against the Orioles, the bats have powered down. The Red Sox have scored just 26 runs in their last eight games, an average of barely three a game, while falling to 3-6 and into last place in the AL East.

Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Yankees was typical of their recent play. Zack Godley allowed a grand slam to put the Red Sox in an immediate 5-0 hole, and the demoralized offense mustered only six hits. The Red Sox put multiple runners on base in just two innings -- the third, when they scored their two runs, and the ninth, when Andrew Benintendi struck out with runners on the corners to end it.

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"I know we got down right away, 5-0, but our offense isn't catching up," manager Roenicke Roenicke said. "We got the two runs, made it 5-3, and then we didn't do much. So with what I feel about our guys, we need to get guys clicking right because we know as a group, when you look at this lineup it is a very good lineup. So the pitching really, even (Friday), the pitching was good enough for us to win games and today same thing."

In a perfect world, limiting the potent Yankees to five runs in each of the first two games of the series would be enough at least to split. But it's the big guns who are failing to deliver.
Benintendi won't be long for the leadoff spot if he doesn't find his groove. After an impressive spring training 2.0, he's hitting just .083. The problems that plagued him last season -- swinging at balls and taking strikes -- haven't been resolved. He has struck out 10 times in 34 plate appearances, his only saving grace the nine walks that have at least put him on base.

 

But Benintendi is just one problem among many. Third baseman Rafael Devers showed up to camp with questions about his conditioning and defense, but now we're wondering where his bat went. He's hitting .182 with zero RBIs. He started slowly last year, too, but he doesn't have the luxury of struggling for a month and then turning on the afterburners in a 60-game season.

His partners in the middle of the order, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, haven't been much better. Bogaerts is hitting .241 with a .670 OPS, and Martinez is even worse at .219/.637. If the latter plans to opt out this fall, he'd be much better served taking his traditional .300-.950 numbers into free agency.

But there's more! First baseman Michael Chavis almost never makes contact and is hitting .188. Since stroking four hits on opening day, second baseman Jose Peraza is batting .185. Right fielder Alex Verdugo is hitting just .231 with zero extra-base hits.

The offense is being carried by the bottom of the order, whether it's catcher Christian Vazquez (4 HRs), center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (.320-.814) or backup outfielder Kevin Pillar (.423-1.098). Mitch Moreland has delivered, too, with a pair of homers, but Roenicke is managing his playing time to avoid injuries.

"We've got a couple of guys scuffling a little bit, and when they get going, I think it will rub off on the other guys," Roenicke said.

In the meantime, as the Red Sox search for the offense that was supposed to be their salvation, the season is already 15 percent over, and they're sinking like a stone.