That is the road record the Sox bring home with them. And only one word can be used to describe it.
We should all be thankful for the little things, like Boston being only two games out of first. Or that they play at home on Friday. Because it's losing streaks like this that can bury a team.
And once again, the problem was not the pitching. It was the hitting...well, the obvious lack of hitting if we're going to be precise.
I am not saying that Buchholz was masterful in Boston's 3-1 loss last night. But he didn't suck either. Four innings and three runs on six hits isn't something to brag about. But it still put Boston in a position to be competitive. And that was followed by four fantastic innings from the bullpen; no runs, four hits and four strikeouts. No one can say that the pitching didn't hold up their end of the deal.
But the bats...
Dustin Nippert is a journeyman pitcher. In five seasons he has a career record of 7-8 with a 6.18 ERA. He isn't that good. And yet the Sox could only nick him for one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. What the hell?? This is the kind of pitcher the Sox should be feasting on, and instead they make him look like a 20-game winner. And then Doug Mathis, in his sophomore year as a pitcher, shuts them down the rest of the way.
This whole situation has gone from frustrating to maddening to comical in a dark, dark way. Can Boston swing the bats any worse than they are right now? I'd like to say "No", but...
Here's how the Sox hit over this road trip: .192 BA / .252 OBP / .285 SLG / .537 OPS. That is beyond bad and into incomprehensibly atrocious.
As for individuals...let's single out the four players who got something done. Youkilis, Ortiz, Pedroia and Mike Lowell all batted over .300 for the road trip. Pedroia and Lowell were the only players to have an OBP of .375 or higher. Youk and Lowell were the only players to have an OPS above .850 for the trip.
And now for the dregs:
Apparently, if your name begins with a "J" you can't hit for squat right now. But look at the last two. Ellsbury is bad enough, killing us in the leadoff spot. But we're paying Drew $14M per year for this? Since July 4, Drew has a total of three hits and nine walks in 13 games. For all of July he is hitting .121 with a .510 OPS! At least Ellsbury is only costing the Sox $450K this year and has the excuse of being a second-year player. What's Drew's excuse? I swear, if the Sox said they were trading him and eating 50% of his salary I would do backflips. Hell, at this point I wouldn't mind seeing them pull a Lugo on him.
And yet, with all of this evidence that batting is Boston's problem, people keep insisting Halladay should be the target. Now I understand that Boston's pitching is hurt right now with Daisuke and Wakes on the DL, Buchholz feeling his way back to the major leagues and the Penny/Smoltz combo starting to falter on the back end. But what good will Halladay do if almost half the lineup can't get a scratch single among them? Halladay could throw a great game, give up one run and lose because people are going entire series without a hit. Besides, Boston's bullpen can carry a mediocre pitching performance. Last night is perfect evidence of that.
What makes this worse it that there are reports floating about saying the Sox have been pursuing Adrian Gonzalez but haven't been able to make the deal happen. Which is a pisser because he was one of the few strong hitters on a crap team that may have been gettable. So now what?
That's the million-dollar question. Something else needs to happen for the Sox. Whatever that something ends up being, it has to address their hitting woes.