Boston Red Sox 2023: Two months in, still seeking ‘all systems go’ effort

Jun 4, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo (99) slides into third base during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Alex Verdugo (99) slides into third base during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

The greatest boost a team can receive is the energy of one player. Something the Boston Red Sox need, among other things, on a consistent basis. A player who inspires those around him, and energizes the team.

A hitter that is feared every at bat. The starting pitcher who will be lights out every fifth day. A player that rallies the team when down. A bullpen that doesn’t allow an inch of daylight, from long relief to closer.

At 30-29, the Red Sox are giving a little more than most expected. And Boston, in some regard, has touched upon all of the aspects mentioned above. Now, a few games into June, it’s time for all those factors to come together and amp this season up.

Producing runs for Boston Red Sox

Pieces for the Red Sox have been in place all season. Struggles in recent weeks at the plate, aside from the occasional outpouring of runs, have highlighted weaknesses. The offense powered Boston early but, despite their winning record, the Red Sox sit in last-place in an ultra competitive A.L. East.

Still, Boston has scored the third-most runs in the American League. The Red Sox had some false starts with getting back to good this last week. Recently, it was a Justin Turner three-run, bases clearing double smacked off the Green Monster in Saturday’s 8-5 win in game one of a doubleheader.

Hopes of this re-igniting a Boston offense were dashed, however, when the Red Sox proceeded to score four runs over the next two games.

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Adding to the frustration heap is that Boston players are picking up hits, just not in key moments. Alex Verdugo had two doubles and a triple in Sunday’s loss. Triston Casas had two doubles in Saturday’s nightcap. (At least Verdugo managed to come around and score both of Boston’s runs on Sunday).

Struggles aside, I do think this offense is ready to bust out again. Casas is getting good swings and improving each week. Verdugo already has six hits this weekend, breaking out of a mini-slump. And Turner and Masataka Yoshida are contributing solid seasons.

The player who can be earn the “most-feared” moniker is Rafael Devers. Devers does already have this bullseye on him and is doing damage. But he went on cold stretch in May and seemed to be warming up. Prior to this Tampa Bay series, of which he is 0-10 so far, Devers was 5-12 with 4 RBI. More concerning, at the moment, is that Devers hasn’t hit a home run since May 19, where he hit two against the San Diego Padres.

Devers and others, while carrying the team early, went cold just as the starting rotation was finally beginning to give the Boston Red Sox good innings.

Boston Red Sox: Eyes on the pitchers

A nice run in the middle part of May for the starting rotation has given way to struggles in the last 10 games. Starters have failed to pitch past the fifth inning in this span, taxing a bullpen that has been a revolving door of pitchers the last month.

To be fair, some of these starts have seen the starters allow only one run in five innings. Part of me is steeped in old baseball, where I want to see starters go seven innings, especially if they are pitching well. Knowing that’s not the trend these days, I will appreciate the five-inning, one-run efforts.

One pitcher who was dealing, and that lockdown pitcher the Red Sox needed, was Chris Sale. And now he’s once again dealing with the infamous injury bug.

Sale is currently on the 15-day IL with left shoulder inflammation and was enjoying quite the run. Seeing Sale dominate and have fun again was a joy, and here’s to hoping he can recapture that soon.

Brayan Bello has been impressive and James Paxton has looked good in his return. And if Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck can get rid of the “one bad inning” in their outings, the rotation looks in good shape.

As does the bullpen, mostly. There have been some hiccups here and there but between being overworked and amassing injuries, the core has been above average.

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Chances are, the Boston Red Sox will continue to hover around .500, especially if miscues and mental lapses continue in the field. But, if the offense picks up speed again, the pitching settles in, and Boston stops throwing the ball around the infield like lost little league players, the season can get really interesting. And then, the pure energy of winning consistently will be the only boost this team needs to rise in the standings.