Those Streaky Sox
This team can turn it around
You can opt to ride Cyclone, Flashback or Thrilla Gorilla at Six Flags New England this summer, or you can hang on with both hands while watching the Red Sox. They can make you scream at the top of your lungs one minute, make you feel like your stomach just dropped through your shoes the next.
So, which will it be this week, boys and girls? Ten-game losing streak or seven-game winning streak? We haven't made it to Father's Day yet, and the Sox already have lost six games by walk-off this season. In 2013, they lost seven games by walk-off all year. The Sox have lost almost twice as many games (13) as they have won (seven) by one run this season. Last season, they were 21-21. The biggest difference from last season to this is in the blowout wins, a better barometer than one-run games to determine which teams are more dominant. Last season, the Sox were 33-13 in games decided by five or more runs; this year it's 5-6.
They're bludgeoning no one this year. Meanwhile, they're 2-19 in games in which they've been held to three runs or fewer. Their own pitchers should be so lucky. The Sox staff has held the opposition to three runs or fewer 29 times, and has lost eight of those games.
With an outfield performing at historically weak levels offensively, why should anyone expect things to turn for the better? Here are three good reasons: (1) Xander Bogaerts is a rock star, (2) a healthy Mike Napoli will go off on one of his patented hot streaks, and (3) if the current batch of Sox outfielders can't figure it out (or in Shane Victorino's case, stay healthy), the Sox will find a couple of outfielders who can. And we'll throw in a bonus reason, too: The Sox have enough pitching to hang around.
Winning streak looks like a fluke
Special to ESPNBoston.com
When the Red Sox lost 10 straight games in May, it was no fluke. Their starting pitching performed poorly (6.18 ERA) and their offense failed to produce with runners on base (averaged seven runners left on per game). In short, they showed an inability to find a way to win.
Before the team rattled off seven consecutive wins last week, it hadn't won three straight at any point this season. By comparison, the 2013 Red Sox won five straight three times before the calendar turned to June.
During the winning streak, the Red Sox took advantage of an Atlanta Braves team that made five errors (in a four-game series) and rode that momentum into a series against the cellar-dwelling Tampa Bay Rays. Unexpected career performances from Brock Holt (.375 average during the streak) and Rubby De La Rosa (seven shutout innings on Saturday) also highlighted the stretch.
As of Thursday, the team had lost three straight games or more four times this year (including the three-game slide they take into this weekend's series against the Detroit Tigers), something it did only five times all of last season.
Will the Red Sox lose 10 straight anytime soon? Unlikely. But will they win another seven straight? Perhaps even more unlikely. Until the Sox prove they can establish momentum more than once this season, they'll be closer to the bottom of the AL East standings than the top.