Interleague road trips always offer up some interesting scenarios. This week the Red Sox will play three games in baseball’s newest stadium, Marlins Park, and three in its second-oldest, Wrigley Field.
Such oddities might mean something to the Sox, but they shouldn’t. Simply put, they need to get it going, anywhere, and one series against the reeling Marlins and another against the crappy Cubs represents an opportunity. Boston has lost six of its last seven after an extra-inning loss Sunday against Washington, is two games below .500 and six out in the American League East.
Here are three things the club needs to do in order to have a turnaround on the six-game road trip:
Break out the bats
The Red Sox hit only .235 during their 1-5 homestand. They faced some great pitching, especially against Washington. Still, a Boston team ranked among the league leaders in most offensive categories playing host to a young NL team should be able to put up more of a fight.
Among the primary culprits is Dustin Pedroia. Since returning from a thumb injury he is 3-for-24 (.125) with an uncharacteristic eight strikeouts, including one to end Sunday’s loss with the tying run on first base. Adrian Gonzalez isn’t helping. He was 6-for-25 (.240) on the homestand and his on-base percentage is now a season-low .314 (gulp) after a second straight 0-fer on Sunday.
Fix the back end of the bullpen
The relief corps, much maligned in April, became a nice story amid a dominant stretch that lasted for several weeks thereafter. Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller and Alfredo Aceves were among those who put up plenty of zeroes. Aceves has become an issue of late, however, and the need is strong for reinforcements.
Aceves took the loss Sunday after allowing a run in the top of the ninth. He is 0-3 with a 7.00 ERA in his last eight outings. Rich Hill is on the disabled list, Mark Melancon is back from Pawtucket but unproven and Daniel Bard’s future is up in the air. There was word late Sunday that Andrew Bailey was on his way to Florida to start throwing again. Consider that one of the few positives to come out of the past week.
Have some fun
On the surface, this appears to be a very tight team. It has had a microscope on it all season and every loss seems to be magnified. A piss-poor homestand has completely wiped out the hope that came with a recent surge above .500. Frustration showed in the finale as manager Bobby Valentine was ejected and several others expressed their displeasure with the umpiring.
There’s a day off on Thursday. The Sox will be in Chicago then. Perhaps some deep dish pizza, a walk down the Magnificent Mile, a ride on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier or a visit to Theo’s $3.25 million Wrigleyville home to catch up on old times.
Anything to ease the tension of what has been a grind of a first half.
Valentine shreds umps, Youkilis to Pittsburgh?
Bobby Valentine was ejected during Sunday's loss to Washington and bashed the umpiring crew from this past weekend in his postgame press conference.
"It's not right," Valentine said. "Good umpires had a real bad series this series — a real bad series — and it went one way. There should be a review."
In other Sox news, the Pittsburgh Pirates are said to be looking to work out a trade with the Red Sox for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, FOXSports reported. - Matt Burke