After five straight losses, no beer in the clubhouse and a new manager critiquing one of the star players, the wheels are slowing coming off what once was a beautiful Red Sox baseball machine.
Worse than everything else, except maybe the beer in the clubhouse, is losing both games at home to the hated Yankees and the magnitude in which it was done.
If losing the 100 year anniversary game at Fenway Park wasn’t bad enough, try losing a game you’re up 9-0, only to fall 15-9. That was definitely a new chapter in the Red Sox-Yankees saga that will take a long time to forget.
After taking a closer look at this year’s squad, it’s really not all that surprising to see the Red Sox daily performance be so awful. Beyond the band-aids on the field attempting to support the bats of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, the most glaring weakness is the bullpen, which is the worst in baseball with an 8.44 ERA that includes three blown saves.
The starting pitching was supposed to be one of the strengths this season, but they’ve been rocked as well with a 5.84 ERA, bad enough for 29th worst among all MLB rotations. Just about everything the Red Sox had in place for the 2012 season has gone wrong, beginning with the manager, Bobby Valentine.
Andrew Bailey was supposed to fill the closer role left by Jonathan Papelbon, but is out until late August. Moving Daniel Bard out from the bullpen to a starter, and then sticking with it when they needed bullpen help, has been a disaster. Injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford’s delayed return have stung along with Kevin Youkilis not getting on base.
Most of all, the attitude of the ball club is hurting. This was a close knit bunch of free-spirits who have won quite a bit together and the architect to that style of play, Terry Francona, is no longer there.
In his place is the complete opposite. Valentine came into the season with the illusion he could change the attitude of the veteran squad with a strategy that a big September lead would never vanish with his version of the club the way it did to Francona’s last season.
No beer in the clubhouse was the first thing to strike a nerve with the players. Why wouldn’t a manger want his players hanging around and socializing together in a closed environment after a game rather than possibly getting in trouble at a bar somewhere?
Perhaps no one is more excited about getting out of Boston this week than Valentine as the Boston media and fans are placing most of the team woes on Valentine’s back. It should be interesting to see how this team responds with three at Minnesota and then four at the White Sox. Should the Red Sox not improve dramatically upon their 4-10 record this week, both the media and fans are ready to tar and feather Valentine when he returns next week.
A team with far less expectations than the Red Sox, but nearly the same results is the Kansas City Royals who had lost 10 straight games coming into Monday’s action, including all nine of their home games thus far.
What looked to be a young and exciting team that might be able to do some damage early on is now looking exactly like who they are, a very young and inexperienced team. Beyond not hitting the ball collectively, the pitching has been a big disappointment. At least they go on the road this week where they are 3-3 this season.
THE GOOD AJ
After posting a 9.53 ERA and going 0-3 in three minor league rehab starts, it looked like A.J. Burnett’s debut with the Pirates on Saturday might be in line with the same type of performances that ran him out of New York.
But out of nowhere, he pitched one of his best games in five years going seven scoreless innings with seven K’s in a 2-0 win over the Phillies.
Maybe the pressure of playing in a smaller market helped the performance along with the weak bats of the Phillies, but he looked closer to the Burnett we all remember dominating in the 2002 season with the Marlins, a season he got five of his nine career shutouts in.
We’ll see how he fares at Atlanta this Friday along with the adjustment on his rating in regards to the price.
DON’T BUC TREND
The Pirates continue to be a strong play just betting UNDER in each of their games. It’s happened in 13 of their 15 games thus far and until the bats come around, they’ll likely continue the trend. The Bucs play good defense, have a decent rotation and bullpen and have been in position to win several games, but can’t get any help from the lineup.
The Braves went OVER the total in all seven of their games last week to take their mark to 11-4 on the year.
If you just bet the Dodgers (+799), Rangers (+827) and Nationals (+720) in every game blindly this season, you’d be doing quite well. The biggest loser has been the Angels at -967 because of some of their big losses at large -190 and above prices. Cubs (-707) and Royals (-834) backers have also had a rough time of it.
Some bettors like to use the angle of checking out who is behind home plate because of a strike zone that stays consistent and falls in line with either higher or lower runs being scored. In five games this season, Bob Davidson called games have averaged 11 runs per game.
In the case of Jeff Kellogg, he’s called three games that have averaged only 3.67 runs per games. Of course the pitchers matter more than anything, but the great thing about betting baseball is that there are so many layers of data and information that can aid in making you feel confident when making a wager.