BOSTON (CBS) – All of New England was thrilled by the April record of the 2013 Boston Red Sox, as they raced out to an 18-8 start and left all the bitterness and frustration of 2012 behind.
The biggest reason? Pitching.
In those 26 April games, the Sox staff went 18-8 with a 3.58 ERA. Opponents hit just .224 off them with an OBP of .306 and a slugging percentage of .371.
It’s been a different story in May, however.
In eight games, the staff is 3-5 with a 5.15 ERA. Opponents are hitting .299 with an OBP of .372 and a slugging percentage of .458.
When you look at the past six games during which Boston has dropped five of them, the numbers get even worse. The staff has given up 42 runs in those six games, an average of just under seven runs per game. It’s tough for your club to even compete when the opposition is scoring runs at that clip.
Injuries to the closers Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan haven’t helped, and neither has the controversy surrounding Clay Buchholz and the accusations of him throwing a spitter or using a foreign substance on the ball.
So, what needs to happen now? It’s pretty simple; it’s time to step up. Jon Lester and Buchholz need to lead, both on and off the field. It’s easy to take the ball when your team is rolling, but it’s not so easy when your team is stumbling. Lester and company need to find a way to win. Keep your team close and in the game for as long as needed.
What that means will change game to game. It could be seven shutout innings one night, or seven innings of giving up one less run than your team has scored. We’ll take it. Just battle.
Lester welcomes being an ace, and he is needed now, as well as Buchholz. Then it’s up to Ryan Dempster and John Lackey to hold court.
If you’re going to keep the good times rolling, it has to start with the starting pitching. When things stop going your way then that’s where, as a starting pitcher, you have a great opportunity in front of you. You control what happens. Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling did it, and Lester has done it too. Now he just needs to keep doing it.
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This is certainly no time to panic for the Red Sox, and no time to listen to all the “I told you they’re not as good as their April record” stuff.
It’s time to simply look at what you face, take a deep breath, relax, and do what you’re being paid well to do; time to have some fun.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.