Sport Red Sox performance goes from bad to worse

08:20  07 october  2017
08:20  07 october  2017 Source:   bostonglobe.com

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The front men of the rotation have been a major disappointment dating back to last year’s postseason.

The Red Sox went from being one of the most consistent teams in the game to the baseball equivalent of whiplash. Daily Red Sox Links: The Red Sox ’s defense is traditionally good, sabermetrically bad Are the Red Sox good at defense?

HOUSTON — The first inning of the first game gave us the takeaway moment of the Red Sox two-day carnage at Minute Maid Park. The image of manager John Farrell literally carrying (with help from a trainer) one of his wounded players off the baseball field tells you everything you need to remember about what went down here in Texas.

Two Sox starting pitchers threw up on their spikes, a soft parade of Hub hitters did nothing, and for the second straight year the Red Sox are coming home on a stretcher after the first two games of the playoffs.

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Beyond Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, it’s almost jarring to examine the pitcher-by-pitcher performances . This is the Red Sox bullpen in 2015, one of the only two relief units in the majors (along with the Rangers) pegged by Fangraphsas being worse than replacement level.

Strictly going off their last four seasons, the Boston Red Sox have a 25 percent chance of berth in 2015, but they did that largely on the strength of a strong first half that featured star performances from aging While the rest of the AL East has either stayed the same or gotten worse , the Red Sox are

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Boston, we have a problem. And its name is the Houston Astros.

The ’Stros put back-to-back 8-2 beatdowns on the humbled heads of the deadass Red Sox here in the heart of Texas.

It is both stunning and accurate to announce that the only good thing that happened to the Red Sox in their two playoff games in Houston was a strong relief outing by . . . David Price. How’s that for Bizarro World?

“We just got our ass kicked twice,’’ admitted. veteran Dustin Pedroia.

It all started Thursday when Eduardo Nunez — who should not have been cleared to play in the first place — blew up his right knee in the first inning of the first game. The Sox looked like they did not know what they were doing by having Nunez out there. Then they spent the next 17 innings doing nothing in stupefying fashion. It is one thing to lose. It is another to be embarrassed for a second straight year after a second straight 93-win season. They might be playing to save the handsome head of Farrell when they take the field at Fenway for Game 3 Sunday afternoon.

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The Astros are an incredible powerful lineup and they certainly deserve credit for punishing mistake pitches, but the Red Sox needed a big performance from their ace in this game and they didn’t get it. They went down 1-2-3, but it was even worse than your typical 1-2-3 inning.

The 2013 Jays are the best equivalent of the “everything that could go wrong did go wrong” 2012 Red Sox . Milwaukee Brewers. So while it’s not quite fair to say that bullpen performance is completely random, shorting the best pens and betting the over on the worst pens from a year ago usually works

This big bowl of bad starts with the starting pitching. The Red Sox do not have a Mr. October on their pitching staff. To borrow an old George Steinbrenner line, they have a lot of guys who are Mr. May. Sox fans have a right to wonder why they are getting such poor playoff yield from wealthy, healthy pitchers who have little trouble during the regular season.

In Game 1 you had Cy Young candidate Chris Sale carrying on a new Sox tradition of pitching the Sox out of a game in the playoffs. In Friday’s Game 2 it was 17-game winner Drew Pomeranz getting the hook before recording an out in the third inning.

Pathetic.

“I think I just made one bad pitch,’’ explained Pomeranz. “They hit pretty good pitches off me . . . And then in the third inning, I was out of the game. I was upset. Obviously, I want to be in the game as long as I can.’’

Let’s pause for a moment here and talk about The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who have started Games 1 and 2 of the Division Series for Boston in 2016 and 2017. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death, but we know Boston’s Horsebleep Horsemen to be Porcello, Price, Sale and Pomeranz.

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“When stuff’s going bad , it’s going real bad ,” the young shortstop said, answering a question about why the Boston Red Sox have come up so fruitless against the Orioles’ and Blue Jays’ bullpens of late.

Hunter Felt: After the nightmare year of Bobby Valentine, John Farrell has guided the Red Sox back to the playoffs.

Against Cleveland last year and Houston this year, they have put the Sox behind in every game. They are 0-4 with a 13.81 ERA as playoff starters in the two seasons. In 14⅔ innings, they have surrendered 22 runs on 26 hits and five walks. They have yielded nine home runs. It is astoundingly bad work by good pitchers.

These are not bums. That’s what’s particularly galling. Porcello and Price are Cy Young winners. Price, Porcello, and Sale make hundreds of millions. Porcello was coming off a 22-win season when he spit the bit. Price, Sale, and Pomeranz were all coming off 17-win seasons when they barfed in October. Not one of them has ever won a playoff start.

Given the raft of high-priced talent on this staff, it’s amazing to think that the only thing standing between the Sox and another playoff sweep is 33-year-old Doug Fister, who was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA this year — after two teams gave up on him. Oddly enough, Fister is the only Sox staffer who actually has won a playoff start.

“We haven’t played well yet,’’ said Pedroia. “We’ve got to get back home and figure it out. . . . They’ve played great.

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Most teams take time to undergo a complete roster overhaul, yet Cherington did it in a flash because of his vision and some unexpected performances along the way. To say things got bad for the Red Sox in 2012 would be an understatement.

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“They’ve done everything right. We haven’t done anything right.’’

Amen to that.

When Pedroia was asked if anything need to be said, in the form of a team meeting or something like that, he fired back with, “There’s a lot of things always said,’’ then politely concluded his interview session.

Price, who fancies himself as a team leader, exited from the clubhouse before the room was opened to the media. The room was quiet as players dressed and readied for the charter flight back to Boston.

Looking for optimism? Try this: Baseball players routinely tip the local clubhouse workers at the end of every series.

Some write checks, while others use cash. Everybody does it. Late Friday afternoon, while Sox players dressed and engaged in mumbled conversations in an otherwise quiet room, I saw Chris Sale stuff a wad of bills into the hand of a veteran Houston clubbie and could not help overhearing Sale say, “See you in a few days.’’

There you go. The Red Sox look like they are down and out. John Farrell could be history by Monday. But Chris Sale is already planning on coming back here for Game 5 next Wednesday.

Related slideshow: Best of the MLB postseason (Provided by photo services)

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