The odds-on favorite to win the World Series this season is the Boston Red Sox but it would be hard to tell at this point, just one week into the season. The Red Sox fell to 0-6 on the year, Wednesday after they found a way to lose to their third straight to the Cleveland Indians. The sweep was the second suffered by the 'Sawx' in just a week.
And it won't get easier for the Red Sox any time soon, despite playing their next 10 games at home.
The team opens Fenway Park on Friday against their bitter rivals – the New York Yankees. During the early 2011 campaign, the Yankees are 4-2 and despite having some issues with their starting pitching and middle relief, they are still among the best teams in the American League. The Red Sox know it can't get much worse and hope the end of their early slump is near.
“It can't get any worse than this and there's only one way to go. That's up.” said third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has just a .105 batting average this season.
The Red Sox are off to their worst start since 1945, a year when they lost a team-record eight straight games and the pressure is already beginning to mount, even though it is only April. The Indians completed their three-game sweep of Boston thanks to a 1-0 win on Wednesday and came days after the Texas Rangers swept the Red Sox to open the year.
Now, we know they will not finish 0-162 but do these six games expose the Red Sox as being over rated and let the league know the AL is up for grabs?
Already their team ERA is 7.12. Already they have a .181 team batting average, though we could blame the cold weather, as it was below 40 degrees the last two days but no excuses. Last season the Red Sox were able to make excuses, using injuries as a scapegoat but this season they are completely healthy, well except for Felix Doubront and Junichi Tazawa, who are hardly household names.
Remember their big off season acquisition of the biggest free agent in the game, Carl Crawford?
He is already slumping hitting just .174 despite going 2-for-4, with two stolen bases Wednesday. Much of the same can be said for Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro. The one bright spot has been their other big winter pickup Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is batting .350 and has five RBIs to accompany his lone home run but it is only a matter of time before their bats wake up and get hot, which leaves us questioning their pitching.
Last season they finished in the bottom half of the AL with a 4.19 ERA. This was after they resigned their ace Josh Beckett to a $68 million extension and signed free agent John Lackey for $82.5 million.
And let's not forget 30-year-old Daisuke Matsuzaka, who just a few years ago was the biggest thing to enter the league since the Wild Card in 1994. In his first start, Matsuzaka pitched five innings and gave up three runs, which is not bad right? Well yes, but in the second inning he threw 41 pitches and 22 of them were balls.
It is not entirely known how the pitching staff can hold up this season but if these guys can remain healthy and pitch to their capabilities, watch out!
No matter what the problem might be right now, the Red Sox need to regroup and figure out a way to get win number one against the Yankees, or else the fans will let them hear it.
Photo Courtesy of: AP Images