Adrian Gonzalez throwing a bat down after striking out with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. The All-Star first baseman has had trouble at the plate lately, hitless in his last 11 at-bats.
Following a six-game winning streak which saw the Boston Red Sox score 45 runs against the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, the offense has fallen off the table a bit. Having lost three-out-of-four, including two-out-of-three to the Oakland Athletics, the Sox offense has been as cold as the chilly, overcast funk that has hung over the New England area the past couple of days. It’s not like the Sox have been getting shut out, managing to score 16 runs in the three-game series against the A’s, but the offense has still looked somewhat anemic compared to last week.
Now this could just be a case of us Red Sox fans being way too hard on our team, and I honestly believe that this is the case. We constantly expect success living in a winning sports city, so when one of our teams begins to falter, even slightly, we jump on their case and assume that the rough stretch in their season is catatonic. The Sox will snap out this little rut they’re in, stranding runners on-base left and right, especially those in scoring position.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has highlighted these struggles in RBI chances, going 0 for his last 11 and looking uncomfortable at the plate. Having seen Gonzo at his best, when he was hitting over .350 last May and was a lock to put a good swing on the ball nearly every time he stepped into the batter’s box, something is off with his timing. As brought up by Rob Bradford of WEEI in alst night’s contest, it seems as if he’s just a little bit off with his swing.
Gonzalez has taken note of his struggles, and last night even went so far as to blame the team’s 4-2 loss to the Athletics on himself. Granted, he did leave four runners on base, including three in scoring position, but teams win and lose as one so hopefully his teammates were able to help him alleviate the blame off of his shoulders. In my opinion, some time in the batting cages with hitting coach Dave Magadan along with film studying should help fix Gonzalez’s timing. And as Gonzalez said, his lack of coming through in clutch situations won’t happen very often in the near future.
Besides Gonzalez’s struggles, the major league debut of Will Middlebrooks was also of note in last night’s contest. The third baseman went two-for-three, including a single and double, and looked fairly comfortable against big-league pitching for a rookie. Like many other Sox fans and sports analysts, I was impressed with Middlebrooks’ rapid success, and look forward to seeing him play in the near future. Fortunately, chances to see him play will be fairly frequent over the next couple of weeks as Kevin Youkilis is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a lower back injury. Good luck to the rookie as he will further get the chance to prove himself!
Up next for the Sox is the Baltimore Orioles, who come to town for a three-game stint before Boston hits the road to play the Kansas City Royals. The series begins Friday, with a duel of lefties Jon Lester and Wei-Yin Chen scheduled. The Sox have never faced the 26-year-old, who was signed out of Japan this past offseason by the O’s.