Four games, 59 points conceded: the Red Sox are in an impressive historic slump | Boston Red Sox

JThings have gotten so dark in the Red Sox nation in recent days that Saturday afternoon’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays counted as a silver lining. Yes, Boston once again lost to an AL East opponent and slipped away from an increasingly unlikely playoff spot, but at least this time it wasn’t the most embarrassing loss. in regular season franchise history.

It’s not just that the Red Sox did something they’ve never done before on Friday night, which is to give up 28 runs in nine innings. No, that was the way it happened. Their 28-5 loss to the Blue Jays was a clinic on how not to play baseball. It ended with a starting pitcher knocked out early, an overworked bullpen that failed to get out, and defensemen that brutally botched defensive plays.

The defining moment of the game and, barring a turnaround, the Red Sox season, came with the bases loaded in the third inning when Toronto’s Raimel Tapia hit what should have been an inning-ending flyball. Instead, outfielder Jarren Duran completely misjudged it, dropped the ball, then inexplicably paused for a moment as the Jays headed the bases. The result was one of baseball’s rarest oddities: an inside-the-park grand slam. This inexplicable play gave Toronto a 10-0 lead and effectively ended any remaining suspense in the game.

However, there is no mercy rule in Major League Baseball, so the Red Sox had to keep pitching to start batting practice at a relentless Toronto roster. In their last two games before the All-Star break, the Red Sox lost to former rivals the New York Yankees 14-1 and 13-2. By losing Friday’s game by such a wide margin, the Red Sox managed to establish the worst three-game differential in MLB since 1900.

As a mitigation, one of those losses to the Yankees was an impromptu bullpen game necessitated by starting pitcher Chris Sale who injured his hand after being hit by a comeback. Maybe the Red Sox will take comfort in that fact, but they probably shouldn’t. After Saturday’s relatively drama-free loss, they have won just five of their last 19 games.

The Boston implosion in July is not an unforeseen event. Even when winning games earlier in the season, mostly against less formidable opponents, they had a knack for turning what should have been relatively painless wins into stressful nail-biters. Meanwhile, Boston is yet to win a series against anyone in their own division.

The August 2 MLB trading deadline is right around the corner and there’s no way they can consider being buyers. Sunday morning, they were just half a game above the last Baltimore Orioles in the AL East (and 16.5 behind the Yankee and although a playoff spot was within reach of a Mathematically, the Sox haven’t done much to suggest they deserve one.

Since John Henry bought the team in 2002, the Red Sox have rarely been sellers at the trade deadline. That could very well change shortly, especially as Sale is potentially out for the season. Maybe this time Henry and company will be secretly relieved to escape the shackles of expectation.

Beyond their current slump, Sox fans fear the team seems curiously uninterested in dealing with two of their All-Stars: Xander Bogaerts, who may retire after this season and Rafael Devers, who is signed until at the end of the 2023 season. After the lingering emotional fallout from the indefensible trade of Mookie Betts, there’s a growing sense in New England that the team just isn’t interested in paying the league’s next contract. one or the other of the players. The fact that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s previous stint was with the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay Rays did nothing to allay those fears.

It wasn’t until last October that the Red Sox faced the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, completing a completely unexpected turnaround from season to season. While most fans were still unhappy to lose Betts, who had just helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win a World Series, there was a palpable sense of renewal after the gloom and bad vibes of 2020.

Now? The Red Sox put together perhaps the worst streak in team history and the season slips away. Worse than that, they can part ways with their two best remaining local hitters and begin a self-inflicted protracted rebuild.

It’s a sudden disgrace, but not unexpected. Last year’s team exceeded expectations – that’s what made it so fun for fans – but in the offseason the Red Sox stood still as the rest of the division improved. . A regression was to be expected, although no model could have predicted what we have seen in these last four games.

Ultimately, the Red Sox honestly can’t tell themselves they’re fully committed to winning. It starts with a property that has been content to rest on fond memories of recent championships. This attitude has trickled down to the players, and it’s hard not to feel like this is a team ready to give up.

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