Last night was the conclusion of a terrible month of May for the Red Sox. And yet: there we were, up by a run with our dependable closer on the bump, looking to tie a series against a team that was red hot heading into our encounter. On the road. One of those wins was by wunderkind Eduardo Rodriguez. And best yet, the train wreck that is the 2015 AL East has produced a tie atop the leaderboard of New York and Tampa Bay with a 26-25 record. The Sox could get within three games of the lead with a win to end May.
And then, ground ball to Sandoval (I’ve been up front on board paddling the panda canoe from the minute they signed the guy, but he’s been bad at third lately, he’s not the switch hitter he said he was, and he isn’t hitting for power. Other than that, awesome signing!).
Then the walk, which was the correct move.
Then the predictable hanging splitter, the double, the superior fat guy (Fielder >> Sandoval) rounding the bases, and the Red Sox left watching another team celebrate like they just announced free spiral hams on the field in front of them.
First it was the starting rotation. Everybody and their brother screamed from whatever perches they have that the Sox failed in getting an ace and they should acquire one post haste (everywhere except on this blog, that is). Then the Sox fired Juan Nieves, brought in Carl Willis, and the rotation has steadied itself.
(Note on Nieves: for everybody claiming that Nieves should have built up enough credit to get through the 2015 slow start, think about how much work Nieves really had to do in 2013. That staff was made up of savvy veterans who were out to prove themselves - Lester for a contract, Lackey as a comeback, Dempster for one last hurrah, Koji proving he could be a closer, on and on. How much coaching did that staff need? How much success has Nieves had with developing the next wave of Red Sox pitching talent since then? Nieves didn’t have ONE success story on his belt he could point to and say, “the pitching coaching staff, led by me, developed this Red Sox starter”.)
The bullpen continues to be the most pungent side dish of rotten eggs to the 2015 Season That is a Slow-Burning Hell. Koji has now allowed a couple of walk-offs. Mujica, Varvaro, Ross Jr, Breslow, and others have taken turns being among the worst pitchers in baseball. Ogando and Barnes are better than that, but not to the point where you feel good about handing them the ball up one in the 7th. Tommy Layne is our best lefty out of the pen. Read that sentence again. Tazawa is really the only guy I trust in this bullpen and he’s already thrown 200 innings in 2015.
But while the bullpen is disgusting, it is only a side dish to the entree of moose feces which has been the offense. On Saturday, I saw a stat on the Fox game that the 2015 Red Sox have scored the fewest runs per game in the month of May of any Red Sox team since 1920. You know all the reasons - the low BABIP, Hanley’s shoulder, Big Papi, Napoli’s streaking, missing Ryan Hanigan (hindsight question that is going to be rendered moot soon as Swihart adjusts to the bigs: wasn’t it right about the time Hanigan got hurt that this season took a turn towards the porta-potties? Was Hanigan the secret glue that was winning games in April? I thought the local Andover boy story was going to be a feel-good narrative for 2015. See? Slow-Burning Hell), etc.
And, oh, what’s this?!? Coming up on the outside, it’s bush league defense making a charge on this list of reasons we’re seven games under .500! Rusney looks like a high-schooler out there taking bad angles on balls in right (if Rusney isn’t going to hit, and now, then JBJr should be the right fielder. Also: Shane Victorino, hurry back from the DL! You can’t get here fast enough!), the Slap Weasel isn’t a shortstop and shouldn’t be playing major league games there, and they call him Fat Panda for a reason.
But still. Last night. Win that game, go home with a series tie, and turn the calendar page to June. Start fresh. With Ed-Rod in our rotation.
Instead, it’s party time in Texas and I’m in a slow-burning hell season.