Red Sox Feeling the Pressure
The Red Sox recent woes cannot be blamed on the pitching, only on the Sox untimely hitting and inability to produce in pressure situations. In the last five games, the Sox are 1-4 and have amassed only 15 runs. With the Sox only scoring three runs a game, the pitching staff needs to be nearly perfect. The only win in their last five games was a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals in which Kason Gabbard pitched a complete game shutout. Perfection. The worst part about the Sox lack of runs is that they have had more than enough opportunities. Fifty-one hits and eight walks during those games have given Sox batters chance after chance to win games, but they have blown each one of those chances. First Basemen Kevin Youklis has left eleven men on base during those games. In a 4-3 loss to the Royals, both David Ortiz and J.D. Drew left five men on base and Coco Crisp left four. After the sixth inning during those games, the Sox have scored a total of two runs. At some point or another, the Sox bats are going to have to come alive or they are going to be looking up at the Yankees very soon.
Unfortunately, this is not new for the Sox who have struggled in clutch situations this year, especially late in games. ESPN has a stat “Close and Late” which they define as “results in the 7th inning or later with the batting team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck”. In that category, Ortiz has .238 average (10-42) with 1 RBI and Manny Ramirez has .190 average (8-42) with 4 RBI. The Sox two best hitters, their one-two punch, have 5 RBI all season in clutch, late-inning situations. Youkilis has .167 average (6-36) with 3 RBI and Lowell has .255 average (12-47) with 8 RBI. Now, Pedroia leads the team in this category with a .424 average (14-33), but has only 1 RBI all season. That means, Pedroia gets on base in the late innings, but never gets driven in. After the sixth inning, no matter the situation, the Sox have a .247 team average with 221 strikeouts to only 125 walks. During innings 1-6, the Sox have a .288 team average. When the game gets later and more pressure packed, the Sox fold. They have a .267 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .262 average when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. If the Red Sox want a real chance at winning a world series, they are going to have to recapture the late inning magic that powered this team to the 2004 championship.