By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox could have ended any and all hope for the Yankees over the weekend, shoving their rival further down the AL East standings and snuffing out any glimmer of hope that New York may have had heading into the second half of the season. Instead, the Red Sox are now looking to bounce back and get out of a funk.READ MORE: Rays Top Red Sox 3-2 For 3-Game Sweep, Widen Lead In East
Boston arrived in New York having won all six of their previous meetings with the Yankees. They owned a comfortable 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to lead the AL East. That win streak over their rivals is now a thing of the past, and that lead in the division has dwindled to just half a game after Boston dropped two of three in the Bronx.
Losing two of three to the Yankees, with Thursday’s series opener postponed after COVID hit half a dozen players on the New York roster, is not the ideal start to the second half for Boston. And it’s a continuation of the semi-slump that the Sox were riding into the All-Star break. The Red Sox have now lost three straight series — dropping two of three in Anaheim and against the Phillies ahead of the break — and six of their last nine games.
Boston’s bats were snoozing heading into the break, and they were silent again in New York, plating just two runs over the final two games of the series. The Red Sox went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position during the series.
After Sunday’s loss, Boston manager Alex Cora said his offense needs to shake out of its slumber in a hurry.
“We haven’t hit since we were on the West Coast. We’ve been chasing pitches. We’re in one of those stretches, kind of like when we played Houston,” said Cora, equating the current struggles to a three-game stretch against the Astros where the team scored just four runs. “We love to swing the bats, but we’ve been chasing pitches out of the zone for a while.”READ MORE: Red Sox Fall To 2nd Place In AL East With 9-5 Loss To Rays
Following their 11-run outburst against the Phillies on July 9, the Sox have scored just 12 runs over the last five games. For a team with such a questionable starting staff (Martin Perez failed to reach the fifth inning for the fifth time in his last eight starts on Sunday), that simply will not get it done.
The Sox better snap out of it quick too, because the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The team now heads to Buffalo for three games against the Blue Jays, who own the best run differential in the division at plus-95. The Jays may be six games back of Boston in the AL East, but they’ve won four straight and six of their last 10. Toronto plated 25 runs over three games against Texas over the weekend, including 15 runs Sunday to sweep a doubleheader.
The Red Sox are familiar with how potent the Toronto offense can be. The Jays pummeled Red Sox pitching with 30 runs over a three-game span in June, as the two teams split a four-game set in Boston.
Boston is 5-4 against Toronto so far this season, and won two of three when the two met in Buffalo in May.
After three with the Jays, the Red Sox have four more with the Yankees and four against Toronto at Fenway Park. A nine-game road trip awaits after that homestand, with trips to Tampa Bay, Detroit and a return to Buffalo.
After such a promising first half of the season, the Red Sox are now looking to shake off a rough start to their post-All-Star break slate. Divisional wins are the best way to right the ship, and Boston will have ample opportunity to get a handful over the coming weeks.MORE NEWS: Chris Sale Tosses 5 Strong Innings, Strikes Out 7 In Rehab Start With Worcester
But if they want to hang on to their now slim lead in the division, the Red Sox bats are going to have to wake up from a mid-season slumber.