Seventeen games into their season, the Red Sox head into The Bronx today with six wins under their belt, while the Yankees also have six wins, in two fewer games.
The Clash of the Titans it’s not.
It’s high time the Red Sox pretend like it is that time.
When the renewal of hostilities in this ancient rivalry feels more like it could be a game of badminton between toddlers or an impromptu race in the halls of a nursing home, the Red Sox should use this two-game series as the best excuse yet to light — not re-light — the fire under their behinds that has failed to ignite this season.
Because the 6-11 Red Sox enter enemy territory in New York looking in worse shape than the 6-9 Yankees.
The Red Sox are pitching worse, they are hitting worse and they certainly cannot fall back on the “But we’re missing half our team to the Injured List” like the Yankees justifiably can.
No, here in the middle of April with the season already 10 percent behind them, the Red Sox are limping into Yankee Stadium without any kind of a “we’re close to licking this thing” attitude about them.
They know what’s gone wrong, but have yet to prove they can fix their wrongs. With the Yankees in a less frantic search mode than the Red Sox, the Red Sox don’t look or sound primed to take advantage of this situation.
“I don’t think going to Yankee Stadium has to do with what we do,” said manager Alex Cora after the Red Sox’ 8-1 series-splitting loss to an Orioles team that took full advantage of the struggling Red Sox. “We just have to play better. It can be Yankee Stadium, or Arizona, or in Seattle, Oakland — we just have to play better.”
That the Yankees are not faring any better than the Red Sox in the win column is not any sort of consolation for Cora.
“Right now, honestly, I am not looking around,” said Cora. “I know where people are at, but we have to take care of us first.”
All the statistics in overall batting and pitching — runs scored per game, home runs, batting average, OPS and ERA and WHIP — between the two six-win teams favor the Yankees, but nothing best outlines their run differential. Remember, take into account that the Yankees have played two fewer games than the Red Sox and have scored just one fewer run, 73, than the Red Sox.
And the Red Sox have allowed a whopping 106 runs, which is 43 more than the Yankees’ pitchers have allowed, at 63.
The Red Sox’ run differential is minus-32, while the Yankees are at plus-10.
In other words, the Yankees are not playing as poorly as their record reflects.
And the Red Sox are.
“Right now, we aren’t playing consistently well, I would say,” said Xander Bogaerts, one of the few Red Sox hitting consistently this season. “We know what we’re capable of doing day in, day out. I think that just hasn’t been it yet. I don’t know, we’re 17, 16 games into the season, but we’ve got to turn this thing around pretty quick.”
Like Cora, Bogaerts deflected the suggestion that the Red Sox might be catching a break by catching the Yankees when they have been felled by injuries to key players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius, Troy Tulowitzki, Luis Severino and Dellin Betances and at a time when their record suggests that they are down.
“I really haven’t given much thought on them,” said Bogaerts. “We can’t look too much ahead of us. We’ve just got to look at the day to day, and tomorrow when we get there or tonight on the plane flight, we’ll start thinking about them, but one thing I can tell you, we’ve got to start winning.”
The Red Sox have not only been repetitive when pounding the “we’ve got to play better” theme, but also vague.
The relief pitching has been real good, but otherwise, the team is waiting for its rotation and offense to settle in. It’s the waiting part that is the mystifier. The Red Sox are smack in the middle of an AL East-only stretch and they went 3-3 against the weak sisters, Toronto and Baltimore.
The big boys, New York and Tampa Bay are next, and the Red Sox can’t wait till they come back home again to hit the launch button on this season.
“We’ve got two division rivals, we just played two of them,” said Bogaerts. “I mean, we played all right. we played better than we were playing at the beginning. Now we’ve got two stronger opponents, we’re playing away, we’ve just got to go in like we normally do, handle our business, and play the best we can and really rack up the wins pretty quick.”