Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Odds stacked against Red Sox

The Red Sox have yet to win a game in the young 2011 season. Say what you want about it only being a small four game sample but there's some daunting statistics now stacked against the preseason favorites to take the AL East.

Only six teams in MLB history have ever made the playoffs after an 0-4 start. Of those six, only the 1985 Cardinals made it to the World Series, where they lost to the Kansas City Royals.

Even though it's only been four games,
the fact that the Sox are without a win is concerning.
If you want to, you can look at those facts and throw them out the window. The point is, the Sox are treading dangerous waters.

I don't mean to say that an 0-4 start automatically means that all of the preseason predictions of AL East dominance and 100 games can now be put to bed. Baseball is a game of slumps and streaks. The Red Sox just seem to have had some pretty bad timing with their slump.

“It’s the start of the season. Everything’s going to be magnified. We understand it," said Sox rightfielder JD Drew. "There’s enough of a sense of urgency as far as player to player goes as well as the team. You want to get off to a good start. I’ve been through really good starts and really bad starts as a player, and you deal with those things as a team."

What's the reason for the early season disappointment?

Obviously, the Sox pitching has played a major role. With an ERA of 8.16, Boston's arms rank dead last in the Majors at this point. Even so, it'd be hard to expect the Sox pitchers to be giving up so many runs in September. Jon Lester has historically gotten off to slow starts and the same goes for Beckett. However, Buchholz's outing was a bit suprising to Sox fans. He allowed four home runs after only giving up nine in all of 2010. However -- if you're looking for positives -- Buchholz also only gave up five hits in the outing.

The Sox offense has arguably been even worse than the pitching. After coming up with five runs in the first two games, they've mustered only one in each of the last two.

The reason? It may be as simple as they're just trying too hard.

“We’re swinging at stuff out of the zone. We’re anxious," explained second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "Everyone wants to do good. That’s what happens when you see a lot of checked swings, stuff like that. But we’ll settle in. Once you settle in, though, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be good stuff.’’

The 0-4 start certainly doesn't reflect well on the 2011 Sox resume. However, slow starts have been overcome before. The '98 Yankees started the season 1-4 and ended up with a 113-44 record. The famous 2004 Red Sox accomplished the impossible in coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS.

It's not the end of the world, but the odds are certainly now stacked against the Red Sox. Even so, there's no reason for fans to lose hope so soon.

"There’s too much history here," said Josh Beckett. "Everybody here knows how to win. We’ve got to figure it out. Nobody’s going to come out of the blue, feel sorry for us and help us out. We know what we’ve got to do."

“Two weeks from now, this will be behind everybody," said Adrian Gonzalez. "It’s not something we’ll be talking about in a couple of weeks, but at the moment we’ve got to concern ourselves with it.’’

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