What a difference a month makes.
Through the first month of the season, the general theme with the Red Sox centered on poor pitching but a strong offense that on most nights could make up for the struggles from the mound.
That has been reversed of late, as it is the offense that has been having the bulk of the issues, and the pitching staff appearing to have turned a corner.
Going into play Sunday, the Red Sox’ offense has averaged only 2.53 runs per game in the month of May. This is compared to averaging 5.14 runs a game in April. Almost 2.5 runs difference is a staggering amount.
The biggest reason for this is their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. As a team they are hitting .204 on the year and have nine players with at least 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position hitting at .200 or below.
Pablo Sandoval is at.192, Hanley Ramirez at .179, Mike Napoli at .172, Dustin Pedroia at .167, and worst of them all, David Ortiz at .138.
Despite the issues at the plate, entering Sunday’s series finale with the Mariners in Seattle, the Red Sox had won five of their previous seven games, and were guaranteed to go at least .500 on their 10-game road trip, something many didn’t think was possible at the start when they fired pitching coach Juan Nieves before departing for Toronto.
A major piece in their winning has been the steady progress of the pitching staff, particularly the starting rotation. Red Sox starters have a 1.32 ERA in last four outings following Rick Porcello’s performance Saturday night. This comes after they had a 5.75 ERA in the month of April, the worst in the majors.
Porcello has emerged as the Red Sox’ best starter. After allowing eight runs in five innings against the Orioles on April 19, the right-hander has made five starts, going 3-0, with the Red Sox - as a team - winning all five. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in his last four starts and remains the only Red Sox starter to pitch at least five innings in every one of his starts.
"He's been on a solid run the last four or five outings for us,'' manager John Farrell told reporters in Seattle Saturday night. "I thought he had some good power to his fastball.''
Whether or not the addition of new pitching coach Carl Willis has been the difference or not, the Red Sox pitching staff is on a roll.
Moving forward, the Red Sox have shown signs to have optimism. Their offense is one of the best in baseball, when they perform to their capabilities, and now the pitching staff has showed it can pitch well enough to keep the team in games.
As a team there just needs to be more consistency. Getting that consistency could spell a winning summer in Boston.