David Ortiz watches the ball leave the yard in the fifth inning Monday in Atlanta. Credit: Getty Images
In the last four seasons, the Red Sox have been dealing in extremes. In 2011, it got nuclear ugly – with the whole fried chicken and beer clubhouse thing and the exodus of Terry Francona as well as much of the old guard. In 2012, it remained ugly, with Bobby Valentine guiding the Sox to a putrid 69-93 record. In 2013, there was sunshine, Big League Chew and ice cream for all throughout the summer months and late into October as Boston won it all.
2014? Well, the best you can say about this bunch is that there’s been little off-field drama. But on the diamond, the place where they actually tally the wins and losses, there has not been a darker period in Boston’s recent era of extremes.
Prior to Monday’s 8-6 victory in Atlanta, the Red Sox (21-29) had lost 10 games in a row and were flirting with going a whopping 10 games under .500 just 50 games into the season. For perspective – the much-maligned 2012 Sox actually had a winning record through 50 games as they were 26-24. The 2012 team also didn’t fall 10 games under .500 until Sept. 1, 134 games into the year.
Monday’s win over the Braves again showed just how trick-or-treat the Sox have become. They were down 6-1 in the fourth inning after Clay Buchholz lasted just three innings, giving up six earned runs and walking eight batters.
But a clutch Dustin Pedroia single to left, a David Ortiz dinger to center and a one-hour, 26 minute rain delay gave the Sox their most important win of the season. Conventional wisdom says that Monday’s gutty victory is the type of win that would propel any team for weeks. But as most have found out already, 50 games into the 2014 season, the Red Sox play in a day-to-day world in a land of day-to-day extremes.