The Red Sox are in trouble. Big trouble. The problem doesn’t lie in the starting pitching, not exactly. Granted, they’ve surrendered 3 and 4 runs in their two outings, respectively. However, I bet it’s incredibly tough to play in situations where your team isn’t scoring any runs. You have to pitch so finely in those situations that it’s probably easier to make mistakes. And that’s been the situation the Sox have found themselves in for almost the entirety of the playoffs so far. And that’s because the offense just isn’t clicking.
I missed Thursday’s game, but I know they were limited to just 4 hits. Last night, it was the same thing: just 4 hits. While they managed to score a run and give Josh Beckett the lead for a little while, they didn’t do nearly enough to win the game against an excellent Angels offense and a solid pitching rotation. Nobody on the team is having a good postseason so far, and unless the bats wake up, it’s going to be an early end to the season for the boys from Boston.
Right now, Anaheim just looks like the better team. Their offense is clicking much better than the Boston’s is. What I’m seeing most is their ability to string multiple hits together. The Sox can drag out at-bats, draw walks, as good as anyone, but I have yet to see them combine that with some timely hitting to drive in some runs. They don’t have the Angels speed, so they have to rely on consecutive hits and power if they want to drive in runs. Right now the power’s out with the Sox, and that just leaves hitting as a means to move baserunners along (you know, when they have any).
Luckily, the Red Sox have experience on their side. They were down two games to nil against Oakland in 2003 and came back and won. They were down 3-0 against the Yankees in 2004 and came back and won. They were down 3-1 to Cleveland in 2007 and came back and won. They even came back from a 3-1 deficit to Tampa in 2008 to at least force a game 7 situation. The Red Sox are great at digging themselves out of holes. They absolutely could come back in the series. They are a squad of mostly experienced veterans who have been to the playoffs before and no how to handle the pressure. So all hope is not lost yet.
Unfortunately, at this point Anaheim can say the same thing. They’ve been to the playoffs 5 times in the last 6 years (granted they were all first round exits, mostly to Boston). So they know the atmosphere too and are unlikely to crack under the pressure. Boston’s only chance lies in getting to the starting pitching and having their bats wake up. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening. I’ve been wrong before, and I hope I am now as well, but I just don’t see the Sox winning the series with the way they’re playing right now. This team this year has been marked by hot and cold stretches. They’ve played unbelievably well for a couple weeks, then gone .500 or worse for a week or longer. They didn’t play well going into the playoffs (beating up the 4th-place Indians doesn’t count), and they’re showing no signs of coming out of their team-wide funk. My prediction is an early exit for the Sox this year, a team that just didn’t quite have all the components necessary to win a championship. If I can take solace in one thing, it’s that I think the Angels are DEFINITELY capable of beating the Yankees come the ALCS.