The Red Sox are running out of panic buttons to push.
Alex Cora’s ejection didn’t help. Neither did Chris Sale’s. A team meeting proved fruitless and there aren’t any reinforcements coming to save the day.
These are the 2019 Boston Red Sox, and they are nearly out of options after a disastrous doubleheader sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees on Saturday.
“We’re in the middle of a rut,” 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts told the Boston Globe. “We have to figure out a way to get out of it.”
That might be oversimplifying things for the reigning World Series champions.
In Game 1 on Saturday, Sale put on arguably his worst performance in a Boston jersey. In 3.2 innings, he gave up eight earned runs — the most in his Red Sox career — while striking out four batters and exerting limited control.
His frustration boiled over when he was eventually pulled in the fourth inning after allowing seven runs in the frame. As he was exiting the mound, Sale unleashed on home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. To be fair to Estabrook, this one really wasn’t on him:
Sale was officially ejected after his rant, but that probably mattered less than the seven runs he gave up before that. The Sox then blamed Estabrook’s missed calls for the game spiraling out of control.
“For me, he changed the whole complexion of the game,” Cora said after he was also ejected for arguing with Estabrook.
On any other day, that would be a story in itself for Boston. But that was only Game 1 of the doubleheader. Things quickly got considerably worse after the 9-2 loss.
The Red Sox tried all the common tricks and used part of their time between games for a private team meeting.
“When things come up, you have to address it,” Sale told the Globe. “We care about each other and obviously we’re not playing the way we want. We respect each other and we love each other. When something comes up and someone has something to say, we have enough respect and love for each other to get together as a group to go over some things.”
Whatever was discussed, it didn’t exactly help discover a cure.
Boston came back out for Game 2 and promptly lost 6-4 after taking a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning. Matt Barnes was tagged with the loss after allowing three walks and two runs in the seventh.
The Red Sox (59-54) have now lost seven straight games and the reality is they’re closer to falling under .500 than getting back into the playoff picture. While they’re 5.5 games back of the second wild card, they have to leapfrog a surging Oakland Athletics team and a Tampa Bay squad that has, more or less, defied explanation all season.
Winning the American League East outright almost feels impossible with Boston now 13.5 games back of New York. Which is exactly what happens when you have a 27-29 record at home and fall to 4-10 against your arch rivals.
Things start to feel even more dire thanks to MLB’s elimination of waiver trades after the deadline this year. Boston’s most notable addition before the deadline was Andrew Cashner — who has since gone 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA and 1.757 WHIP in four starts.
Whatever else the Red Sox want to try to turn things around, now is the time do it. With only a month and a half left in the regular season, there isn’t any room for more missteps.
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