The Red Sox bats continue to produce but the starting pitching so far this season, has left something to be desired.
The Sox were out-slugged by the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Monday night, dropping them to 2-and-2 on the season.
Boston entered the game riding the high of taking their first series of the season against Baltimore, a feat the team failed to accomplish against an American League East opponent until August last season.
Kutter Crawford got the start for the Red Sox. He lasted only 4 innings allowing all 7 runs on 8 hits (3 home runs.)
Bad as Crawford was he didn’t get a lot of help, certainly not from mother nature. The wind created problems early for the Red Sox, leading to a bloop single and an error. A Ke’Bryan Hayes ground ball rocketed off the first base bag to knock in one and Canaan Smith-Njigba followed it with a two-run double off the Green Monster and all of a sudden Boston was down by three in the top of the first.
Like they’ve done all season so far, the Sox offense battled back. In the bottom of the frame Rafael Devers rocketed a solo home run to straightaway center.
Rookie of the Year betting favorite Masataka Yoshida and Casas also showcased their power in the first. Macho Man, as he is called by many fans in Japan, capitalized on a fielding error and smashed a two run homer over the Monster for his first in a Red Sox uniform to tie the game. Later in the inning with a man aboard Casas wrapped an 89 MPH slider around Pesky Pole making it 5-3 Sox.
Masataka Yoshida's first career home run ties the game! pic.twitter.com/qjb8fjpJcn
— MLB (@MLB) April 3, 2023
Crawford could not hold the lead however. Bryan Reynolds pulled Pittsburgh within one with a solo home run in the 2nd. The Pirates tied things up following an RBI single from Jack Suwinski in the third.
Despite having thrown 72 pitches through three Red Sox Manager Alex Cora tried to squeeze one more inning out of his starter to save an already taxed bullpen. It didn’t work. Crawford made it through the 4th but not before surrendering a pair of solo shots. One to Jason Delay putt Pittsburgh up 7-6. Reynolds followed with his second of the game you make it 7-5.
“I thought it was pretty awful,” he said after the loss. “Physically, I felt good, but just didn’t command the ball like I needed to, didn’t execute pitches when I needed to… just kind of a bad performance on my part.”
BRYAN REYNOLDS AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/C2G80r4yoV
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 4, 2023
A broken bat line drive from Adam Duvall plated one in the sixth to bring the Red Sox within one at 7-6 but that’s as close as they would get.
Pitching and Moaning
By any metric you choose to use, the Red Sox have the worst starting pitching in baseball to start the season. Red Sox starters now have a 12.91 ERA through four starts, by far the worst in the league. Their starters have a WHIP of 2.28 and have given up 10 home runs, again both worst in the league. The .371 opponents batting average is good for second worst in baseball.
“At one point,” Cora said postgame, “we’ve got to pitch better.”
But when? Help is arriving later this month and possible into the beginning of May when Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, and Bryan Bello all come off the injured list. Until then, the Red Sox will have to make due with a patchwork rotation and hope for the best.
All About Offense
As bad as the pitching has been the Red Sox offense has ben nearly as good if not better. Boston leads the American league in runs (33) batting average (.311) OBP (.391) Slugging (.554) and OPS (.945) and are 3rd in the AL in home runs with 8.
Doing it against the Orioles and Pirates is one thing. Can they sustain it against more fortified pitching staffs and is it enough to overcome the poor starting pitching? Time will tell.
Clearing the Bases
- The game marked the first of Boston’s 16 interleague series this season due to MLB’s changes to scheduling, forcing each team to play each other once in a single season—bumping interleague ballgames from 16 to 46.
- Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta gets the start on Tuesday before the rotation turns back over to Corey Kluber for the series finale Wednesday.
- Before Monday’s game Sox slugger Adam Duvall was named AL player of the week after batting .571 with eight hits, two home runs and eight RBI over three games against the Orioles.