Chris Sale has been solid for the Red Sox all season. When he takes the mound at Seattle this afternoon to face the Mariners, it might be his biggest start of the season.
The Red Sox are scuffling. The Red Sox have lost four games in a row, which is their longest losing streak of the season, and are just 5-8 since the All-Star break. The Yankees, meanwhile, are 7-5 since the All-Star break. The Yankees have won four of their last five games, and recently took 3 out of 4 in Seattle to win their first series since they swept the Baltimore Orioles June 9-11.
Just a week ago, the Yankees found themselves in third place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the Red Sox. Today the Yankees start the day in second place, just one game behind the Red Sox. If the Red Sox lose today and the Yankees win, the Yankees will finish the day percentage points ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the division.
The big problem on the field has been the Red Sox offense. The Sox have been outscored by their opponents 50-44 since the All-Star break, and it doesn’t even feel that close at times. On the season the Red Sox have hit just 100 home runs in 102 games. That’s 27th in the big leagues and dead last in the American League.
But the on-field issues have taken a back seat as of late to the clubhouse soap operas. By now you’ve probably read Dan Shaughnessy’s account of what happened between David Price and Dennis Eckersley on the Red Sox’ June 29th flight to Toronto (if you haven’t used up your free articles for July). Shaughnessy’s story portrays Price as oversensitive and petty, which is not surprising. What is surprising is that, according to Shaughnessy’s story, many players applauded Price’s dressing down of a broadcaster who is essentially a team employee.
Then on WEEI yesterday, after evading the question several times, Manager John confirmed that he had not apologized to Eckersley since the Price incident. The second David Price media explosion of the month. John Wayne Manager John is not. Manager John is afraid he’ll lose the clubhouse if he simply asks one of his highest paid players to stop acting like an unrepentant asshole.
Normally with the team in a tailspin the last week of July, trade deadline blockbusters would seem less likely. But, the Red Sox still have the second-best record in the American League. The Red Sox certainly don’t look like a World Series contender right now, but who will stop them? The Houston Astros are the favorite to win the American League right now, but they aren’t your traditional juggernaut. They’ve made the playoffs once in the last dozen years. Don’t tell me they couldn’t be beat in a series.
Which leads me back to my original point. Today is a big day for Sale and the Red Sox. If they win, they have tomorrow off and come home for a 10-game homestand that starts Friday. If they lose, does John Farrell get on the same plane as the 25 players? Or does Dave Dombrowski try to find a no-bullshit manager to try and right the ship for two and half months?
If only such a manager were available…