Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Hitting Funk

Since going to Arlington to play against the Rangers, the Red Sox have faced some very good pitching.  The only starter with an ERA over 4.00 that they faced was Vance Worley, who had a 7+ ERA before facing the Sox (he lowered it to 6.95).  Sox hitters only managed to get 3 ER off Worley in 5 IP.

But the other starters the Sox have faced have been more daunting: Darvish (2.56), Holland (2.74), Ogando (3.08).  Even Scott Diamond, the common card we saw pitch last night, came into yesterday's start with a somewhat high 3.97 ERA but got that down to 3.03.

And what exactly have Sox hitters looked like after they arrived in Arlington?  Let's take a look at the stats:

Ellsbury: .304 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R
Victorino: .294 OBP, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R

I'll go with average for the rest of the hitters, but the primary job of the 1-2 hitters it getting on base -- which they haven't been doing.  That partially explains why Ells hasn't scored a run, and Victorino's run scored was off his home run.  For the few times they have gotten on base, though, the meat of the order hasn't been able to drive them home:

Pedroia: .210 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Ortiz: .263 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Napoli: .111 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R

I'm not sure how much longer the Pedroia hitting third experiment can last for if he's not going to provide enough power at such an important position in the order -- but I'm not sure where else Pedroia could be placed in the batting order, either.  Ortiz would be the obvious choice to hit third.  And then there's Napoli... That batting average really just says it all right there. Pitchers hit better than that.

Looking at the rest of the main players, the only bright spot is Drew -- the only position player over the past 5 games who's managed to have a big day.

Middlebrooks: .142 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R
Nava: .181 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 R
Salty: .285 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Drew: .400 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R

Salty is hitting more than usual, too.  But the only run he's responsible for, last night's home run, is negated by an errant throw to Napoli at first that, after hitting the dirt and nearly going into the outfield before Pedroia blocked it, allowed a runner on third to score.  Salty, showing immaturity, then almost got himself ejected when he bitched to the umpire about the baserunner going to first -- sorry buddy, the baserunner didn't fucking throw the ball into the dirt.  You did.

I've detailed Napoli's problems hitting against good pitching (indeed, his issues are way more pronounced), but the rest of the offense is struggling, too.  Drew's spectacular night at the plate came during the game that Worley and his 7+ ERA pitching, so over the past few games there's hardly an example of a Sox hitter stepping up against a good pitcher.  Closest example I can think of is Ortiz homering off Darvish, but Darvish made him (and all other Sox hitters) look silly for the rest of the game.

Great teams hit don't let playoff-caliber pitching keep them down.  If the 2013 Red Sox want to think about making the playoffs, they need to start winning against good pitchers -- at the very least, start trying to work the count against these pitchers.  No more 3 pitch at-bats.  The Sox can't have a series against Toronto every week to pad the winning percentage -- the schedule is just going to get tougher from here on out.

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