The Boston Red Sox have gone 6-2 over their last three series and are finally above that pesky .500 mark that has eluded them since they went 2-2 on April 4th. Up to this point, nobody is having a particularly great year, but due to a mediocre AL East, the Red Sox haven’t fallen behind too much.
Dustin Pedroia has brought his average up to a team-leading .289, but he needs his teammates to follow that trend if they want to win at the same pace they did last year. Despite winning their last two one-run games, the Sox are still only 5-8 in that situation. Baltimore, who is up 1.5 games in the division over Boston, is 9-3 in nail-biters. Part of this can be attributed to batting average with runners in scoring position, which the Red Sox have struggled with. Their .230 clip this season is well below Baltimore’s mark of .279, which is very similar to Boston’s .278 average last year.
Xander Bogaerts could be the key to the offense if he gets going soon. While he continues to get on base, posting a .361 OBP, he is only batting .125 in 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position. This explains his five RBIs this year, which is by far the lowest total of any of the regular starters. If he is going to bat in the middle of the order, he needs to build up his confidence with a few more timely hits.
The starting pitching has had its ups and downs in the first month and a half, but Jon Lester, John Lackey, and even Jake Peavy have all been putting the team in a position to win every time they take the mound. All three veterans have six quality starts to their name, while Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront have a combined seven in 14 total starts.
This means one of two things needs to happen. Either the Red Sox offense needs to support the top trio or the bottom two pitchers need to be more consistent. Buchholz had pitched two straight outings in which he looked solid, but was roughed up in the loss to Texas in which Yu Darvish almost threw a no-hitter.
Doubront has been a mystery, showing signs of promise riddled among ugly, erratic starts. Last season he was very consistent, going 16 straight starts allowing three earned runs or less. If he continues to be unreliable, other young guns such as Brandon Workman would love a shot at the rotation.
The Red Sox start a three game series in Minnesota tonight against the Twins, who have also been hovering around the .500 mark all season. Both Doubront and Buchholz will take the hill in the series, but the Red Sox will see the Twins’ two worst starters as well, in Kevin Correia and Ricky Nolasco. If the Sox are able to sweep this series, it would really help them along in the standings and give them a cushion before facing off against Detroit, who holds the best winning percentage in the MLB.