Steven Wright (Patrick McDermott/USA Today Sports)
David Ortiz emerged Saturday night at a fundraiser for the Charmed Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
He talked about Chis Sale, and he talked about his former team.
“Unbelievable man, unbelievable,” Ortiz said when asked about Sale. “Unbelievable. But I know it was coming. I knew it was coming. That’s why I got so excited when we got him. He’s an unbelievable pitcher, he’s going to help us out a lot.
“You know, [David] Price, whenever he gets back. It’s just the beginning of the season. … Everybody’s going to be fine, we’re going to start winning ball games. Sale’s going to continue striking out 20 per game. It’s fun to watch man.”
But right now, it’s not that much fun for Red Sox fans to watch.
It’s just 18 games into the season, and John Farrell’s team is still two games above .500, but this has been far from how they drew it up. And the Red Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards during Ortiz’s appearance was the latest example of the unexpected uneasiness. (For a complete recap, click here.)
Steven Wright was supposed to be good. Maybe not as good as he was when earning his All-Star berth, but not that far off. For the first three innings Saturday, he was. Then came the fourth inning, which Wright couldn’t even finish, ultimately giving up four runs on six hits in the frame before being replaced by Heath Hembree.
Wright has now pitched in four games and has an ERA of 8.66. The Red Sox starters not named Chris Sale now have a combined ERA of 5.97. That, my friends, was not part of the plan.
“Yeah they’re pretty large totals,” Farrell told reporters after the loss in reference to Wright’s outings. “I will say this, I thought tonight, the way the game got underway, he’s in pretty good shape. I thought he executed a number of quality pitches. But they bunched them together and it happened quick tonight. Coming off an outing where I thought he was solid against Tampa, not the case here tonight, particularly in the fourth inning.”
“It’s just not really moving,” Wright told reporters. “It’s just moving down. It’s been a consistent movement, going down and in to guys, and that’s pretty much it. It’s not as unpredictable as it was last year before I got hurt. It’s something I definitely have been aware of. I’ve been trying to work on it and get the violence back to the pitch.”
Then there is the offense.
After Jackie Bradley Jr. supplied the visitors with their only extra-base hit of the night with a mammoth home run onto Eutaw St., the Red Sox now have a total of three extra-base hits in their last four games.
Perhaps the most concerning piece of the lineup at this moment is Hanley Ramirez.
The designated hitter doesn’t have any home runs, and just three doubles. After going 0-for-4 in the latest loss, his batting average stands at .211 with an OPS of .537. The only full-time designated hitter with worst production is Detroit’s Victor Martinez.
After the initial two-run surge by the Red Sox against rookie Jayson Aquino, the whole night fell into the abyss Farrell’s club has seemingly been digging themselves out of too many times. In the last four games, the Sox are just 3-for-26 with runners in scoring position.
Ironically, the thing that has been helping making things interesting (besides Sale) has been the one piece of this team folks were most concerned about. This time, Hembree was stellar in his 3 1/3 innings after coming in for Wright, allowing just one hit. Robbie Ross Jr. added a scoreless inning (while executing a very anti-climatic possible retaliatory hit-by-pitch when facing Jonathan Schoop).
There have been injuries, sickness and slow starts. It happens. But with a bunch of games coming up against the first-place Orioles and second-place Yankees, it would behoove the Red Sox to start sticking to the script.
After his hot start, Sandy Leon has cooled off in a big way. The catcher went 0-for-4 and is now 2-for-28 over his last four games, dropping his batting average to .205 with a .540 OPS.