By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Coming off the best season in franchise history, the Red Sox opened their 2019 campaign as one of the very worst teams in all of baseball. Things were looking grim, with the team bottoming out by splitting a four-game set against the lowly Orioles before heading to the Bronx to get handed a two-game sweep by the Yankees.
A way out of the struggle seemed out of the Red Sox’ reach at the time. But now less than a month later, it seems safe to say they’ve climbed all the way out.
With an 11-2 thumping of the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on Sunday, the Red Sox completed a sweep. It was the Red Sox’ fifth straight win, their eighth in the last nine games, and their 11th in their last 13 games. Dating back to that two-game sweep in New York, the Red Sox 16-6.
Winning 16 out of 22 games comes out to a .727 winning percentage, which is winning baseball to an exceptional degree. As a result, the Red Sox now sit just three games behind the Rays for first place in the AL East.
They won’t win at a .727 clip for the rest of the year, or even for the rest of the month. But because of that surge, they won’t need to. Last year’s team set a franchise record for wins with 108, which required a .667 winning percentage. If the 2019 Red Sox could manage to do that for the remainder of this season, they’ll end up winning over 100 games by season’s end.
That, though, is a long way away. The point is that for right now, in mid-May, the Red Sox have course corrected after what was, quite simply, a disastrous start.
The reasons are plentiful, but it’s largely due to the starting rotation performing much closer to its collective capability.
Chris Sale had an 8.50 ERA through his first four starts; he has an ERA of 1.73 over his most recent four starts.
Rick Porcello carried an 8.47 ERA through four starts; he’s posted a 3.04 ERA over his last four starts.
Eduardo Rodriguez had a 7.20 ERA through his first four starts; it’s been at 2.28 in his last four starts.
Add in the infusion of Michael Chavis’ bat (.970 OPS with six homers and 19 RBIs in 86 plate appearances), the consistency of Rafael Devers’ bat (an AL-best .336 batting average), and regular contributions from slots one through eight in the lineup, and the 2019 team is officially starting to resemble the 2018 team.
That may seem like high praise for a team that’s now just three games over .500 in mid-May, but considering where they came from, it’s been quite a remarkable surge.