Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli all batting in a row sounds like a horrible nightmare for most Major League pitchers and is just they way the Boston Red Sox intended pitchers to feel when they drew up the roster this offseason.
Almost a third of the way through the 2015 season, it hasn’t gone as the Red Sox planned. The foursome is hitting a combined .235 on the year and none of them rank among the top-30 American League players in RBI’s. The Minnesota Twins pitching staff made it very clear this weekend that this group is struggling as the Twins went on to sweep Boston and claim a share of the AL Central lead. The Red Sox also stumbled back into last place in the AL East as a result of the three losses.
The group was just 7-46 (.152) this weekend at Target Field and only one extra base hit was produced in the process. It didn’t matter if Boston was getting failed outings on the mound from Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello or a stellar effort like the 7.1 inning start that Clay Buchholz tossed on Tuesday, the Boston offense is just not giving them a chance to win ball games. A team can never expect to contend with a heart of the order performing like Boston’s is at the moment, no matter how well or poorly the pitching staff performs.
This also marks an impressive turnaround for the Twins, who have suffered through four straight seasons of 90 losses or more and proceeded to get off to a 1-6 start in 2015. First year manager Paul Molitor has the team flying right now and Minnesota is currently tied atop the AL Central.
The Twins turnaround can be traced to an improve pitching staff, which was on full display the past few days as they silenced what was supposed to be a prolific Red Sox offense. Starters Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes both improved on their undefeated May records in the first and third games respectively while Mike Pelfrey lowered his season ERA to 2.77 as the starting pitcher in the middle game. Minnesota’s bullpen was also perfect in the series and closer Glen Perkins notched two saves with ease, jumping into the league lead in the process.
The seasons for each of these two teams are going very differently than most people expected and it won’t be long before the Twins and Red Sox face each other again. The clubs have gone their separate ways for the weekend but will meet on Monday at Fenway Park for the start of a four game series.