July 29, 2021

Red Sox Poor Start The Result Of A Lack Of Discipline And Poor Execution

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Home plate ump Dale Scott tells a chagrined Jason Varitek the play at home plate required a tag because Youk had tagged the third base bag

The Red Sox put forth an embarrassing effort last night and, in the process, saw their record fall to 0-5… just the sixth time in the franchise’s history that a Red Sox team has started with as many as five consecutive losses.

It is easy to dismiss the streak as being the product of the players “trying too hard”, but the inescapable truth is these guys are supposed to be professionals. Yeah, I know they are human beings too, but they are not paid millions of dollars annually because they are human beings… they are paid the big bucks because they are professional baseball players.

That means they have to approach every at-bat as a professional. It means being disciplined. It means swinging at pitches in the strike zone, going to the opposite field when the pitch is on the outside corner, or taking a walk when the opposing pitcher can’t throw strikes. On the mound, it means throwing strikes, staying away from the middle of the plate, and keeping pitches low in the strike zone. On defense, it means catching the ball, throwing the ball, paying attention, and being aware of game situations.

The Red Sox did NONE of that last night… and so they are now 0-and-5.

The offense faced Indians pitcher Mitch Talbot, who was 10-13, 4.78 as a rookie last year. They left a runner in scoring position in the first inning, two runners in scoring position in both the second and third innings, and runners on the corners in the fourth inning. They went 1-for-10 with RISP (they are now 7-for-40 thus far in 2011)… and the one hit they managed was an infield chopper by SS Marco Scutaro. Rather than display discipline, Red Sox batters routinely swung at pitches out of the strike zone (in, out, up and down – it didn’t matter!).

Kevin Youkilis looked particularly bad, seemingly unable to adjust to what was happening in real time. (To his credit, he accepted a large share of the responsibility for the club’s slow start in the clubhouse after the game… he went 0-for-4, with 2 K, and is hitting just .133 thus far… not that he has any greater or lesser responsibility than anyone else for the team’s current plight).

On the hill, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka got off to a rough start in the first couple of innings – the ball Choo hit for a home run in the first inning was a BP-fastball thrown over the heart of the plate at mid-thigh level. It was a pitch that most Double-A hitters would have pummelled. But Dice-K settled down nicely after the second inning, and at one point he retired nine-of-ten hitters. He caught a bad break in the fifth inning – he struck out C Carlos Santana and should have recorded a nifty 1-2-3 inning, but home plate umpire Dale Scott blew the call… and the inning continued. He then surrendered a pair of base hits before getting out of the inning, but he had to throw an extra ten pitches. As a result, he was pulled from the game an inning earlier than he might otherwise have been able to last.

Matsuzaka’s replacement was LHP Dennys Reyes. HBP. HBP. BB. Sayonara, Mr. Reyes. (Hopefully, for good! He has faced ten batters thus far… six of them have gotten on base. Of the six lefthanded hitters he has faced, four have reached. Even Okajima would be a
suitable improvement at this point in time)

Righty Dan Wheeler replaced Reyes and induced a ground ball to third base from the first batter he faced. Youkilis stepped on third base and threw home to complete a double play – except Jason Varitek (playing in his first game this year) failed to tag the runner. He assumed it was a force play. Well, you know what happens when you ass-u-me, right?! (For those of you who never saw the applicable episode of the old television series, The Odd Couple, I have provided a hint in the prior sentence). Did ‘Tek’s gaffe get under Wheeler’s skin? We may never know the answer to that one… what we know is that the Rhode Island native gave up a three-run home run to the next batter.

In the matter of less than five minutes, a close affair turned into a five-run deficit – thanks to Reyes and Wheeler.

Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning – the first of his Red Sox career – but that was as close as the Sox would get. Tim Wakefield surrendered a solo home run to 1B Matt LaPorta i the eighth inning to account for the final score.

But the heart of the current struggles get back to a lack of professionalism. No discipline at the plate. No precision on the mound. No execution in the field. The Red Sox aren’t playing any aspect of the game properly at this point.

It’s well past the time where they need to start performing like the disciplined professionals they are paid to be.

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