Chris Sale

Red Sox rotation off to worst start to the season in franchise history

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Red Sox rotation off to worst start to the season in franchise history

Yes, it's true: this is the worst start to a season by a Red Sox rotation. Ever.

After another mediocre outing from erstwhile ace Chris Sale that had the left-hander apologizing for embarrassing his family and teammates in an 8-0 loss to New York on Tuesday, the Red Sox found themselves holding a dubious distinction.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, no Red Sox rotation has ever posted a higher ERA through 18 games than this one. The 7.18 mark tops the 1931 team, which posted a 6.96 ERA en route to a 62-90 finish, 45 games behind the AL-champion A's.

If you've heard of any of the pitchers on that team, you're a bigger fan than most of us. Nine pitchers made starts in 1931, led by Somerville High's Danny McFayden (16-12, 4.02), Jack Russell (10-18, 5.16), Wilcy Moore (11-13, 3.88), and Milt Gaston (2-13, 4.46).

Those pitchers combined to make one All-Star team over 49 combined seasons. This Red Sox rotation features two Cy Young Award winners (Rick Porcello, David Price), one perennial Cy Young candidate (Sale), and the 2018 postseason hero (Nathan Eovaldi).

They've won two Cy Youngs, finished in the top six 10 other times, made 12 All-Star teams, and contributed to a championship. Their pedigree is just a *little* better than their 1931 brethren, and yet they find themselves with just two wins (1 each for Eduardo Rodriguez and Price) and three quality starts (aforementioned duo and Sale).

Sale has only topped four strikeouts once in four starts, while Eovaldi has yet to pitch more than five innings, and Porcello has yet to reach five innings.

Price and E-Rod are coming off of good starts, and Sale finally pumped his velocity back up to 97 mph on Tuesday, so perhaps the tide is starting to turn, but for now, it's no stretch to label this rotation historically awful.

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Just when you think it can't get worse, Red Sox plumb the depths of despair

Just when you think it can't get worse, Red Sox plumb the depths of despair

NEW YORK - We have reached a new low.

Forget that Opening Day clunker in Seattle, the 15-run embarrassment in Arizona, or the Patriots' Day matinee mutilation at the hands of the Orioles.

On Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox found a new way to defile the memory of their 2018 World Series.

They didn't just lose 8-0 to the Yankees (or more accurately, half of New York's Triple-A roster). They surrendered. How bad was it?

Not even Sandy Leon could save them.

The Red Sox attempted to shake things up before the game by summoning Leon from Pawtucket and designating Blake Swihart for assignment, but Swihart probably could've caught an 8-0 loss just fine.

Eighteen games into the season, the Red Sox are entering the panic zone. They're 6-12, good for last in the American League East, with a minus-40 run differential that's topped only by Miami's minus-43. In case you haven't noticed, the Marlins aren't trying. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are defending World Series champs.

With three games looming against the division-leading Rays this weekend, the Red Sox could trail by double-digits by the beginning of next week.

To quote the great Dennis Eckersley: "Yuck."

"I mean, nobody wants to lose," said defending MVP Mookie Betts, whom we'll get to in a second, "but it's just one of those things that's part of it. Got to live with the good and the bad."

The good? It's nowhere to be found.

Ace Chris Sale rediscovered his velocity, routinely hitting 97 mph, but about the only good it did was to amplify the speed with which the ball screamed off the New York bats. The Yankees crushed seven balls with exit velocities of better than 100 mph, and five went for hits, including a homer by Clint Frazier. Sale despaired postgame about sucking and embarrassing his family and then offered this gem when asked if he shared manager Alex Cora's confidence that his next start would be of the vintage variety:

"We'd better [expletive] hope so."

Sale could've allowed a single run and still lost, because the scuffling offense produced just three hits and no runs, even managing not to dirty the scoreboard in the fourth when a wind-aided Xander Bogaerts double put runners at second and third with no outs and J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, and Mitch Moreland due up.

Two shallow flies to right and one strikeout later, the Red Sox remained scoreless. In the process, they turned Yankees starter James Paxton into the second coming of Ron Guidry. The Canadian left-hander who goes by the nickname of Big Maple had pitched more like skunk cabbage through three starts, going 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA. On Tuesday, he dominated for eight innings with upper-90s velocity and a hammer curve, striking out 12 and walking just one.

The Red Sox seem to have that effect on pitchers.

"Obviously there's a lot of guys searching for stuff," Cora said. "You can see it, they get here early and all that, but I think at the end when it's 7:05 or 6:35, you go out there and compete. That's the only thing you can do right now."

The Red Sox shook it up before the game, swapping Swihart for Leon, Sale's favorite catcher. The result: more of the same. 

The Red Sox saw their starting ERA climb to 7.18. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the worst mark they've ever posted through 18 games, topping the 1931 club's 6.96.

In fairness, Sale looked better with Leon than anyone else, though the latter's presence didn't much help Sale's results. The lefty at least stuck out a season-high six in five innings

"It sucks," Sale said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now. I don't know what it is. When you're going good, it's good. When you're going bad, it's pretty bad. You know, show up tomorrow, put on the shoes and get back after it."

One of Sale's pitches even jeopardized the health of Betts, who slammed into the wall chasing a Clint Frazier home run and ended up rubbing and stretching his right wrist for the next couple of innings, including after a groundout to third. Betts said he was fine after the game, but his 0 for 3 dropped his average to .215. On this date last year, Betts slammed three homers against the Angels, bringing his season numbers to .389 with five homers and 13 RBI.

That feels like a long time ago.

"Obviously I haven't played very well," he said. "I'm just trying to make adjustments pitch by pitch and make something happen."

The 2019 season, unfortunately, has brought a whole lot of nothing. We'd like to say it won't get lower than this, but then again, Wednesday is a new day.

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Breakfast Pod: Red Sox fall to the Yankees, 8-0; Patriots sign Demaryius Thomas

Breakfast Pod: Red Sox fall to the Yankees, 8-0; Patriots sign Demaryius Thomas

More trouble for the Red Sox and Chris Sale in the Bronx; the Patriots add an experienced wide receiver; what do B's have to do to bounce back Game 3?

1:00 - The Red Sox get shut out against the Yankees and lose, 8-0. John Tomase breaks down the loss and discusses the rough start to Chris Sale’s season.

8:00 - The Patriots signed WR Demaryius Thomas on Tuesday. Tom E. Curran breaks down what he expects from the veteran receiver.

15:00 - Bruins fell to the Leafs in Game 3, Joe Haggerty discusses what needs to change for the Bruins to get a win in Game 4. 

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