By a number of measures, Boston’s weekend series against the Yankees was an offensive explosion for the record books. They put up 19 runs on the Bronx Bombers on Thursday night (most ever against New York); they slashed 25 extra base hits in the series’ first two games (first team to have more than 10 XBH against the Yanks in 111 years); and they scored 44 runs over the four-game series (most ever against New York).
Yet, following another sub par Chris Sale performance on Sunday night, Boston enters its first off day since the All-Star break the same nine games out of first they were at the break itself.
To be sure, the surging offense has made for some fun nights at Fenway. With their recent fireworks, Boston’s offensive numbers are better than last year when, might we remind you, the Sox won a franchise record 108 games and ran through a duo of 100+ win teams on their way to a World Series championship:
YEAR AVG OBP SLG OPS XBH/AB HR/AB
2019 .276 .347 .475 .823 .108 .043
2018 .268 .339 .453 .792 .106 .037
In the second half, Boston has taken their run production to peak Manny/Big Papi era levels. They are slugging .547 as a team and hitting .357 with men in scoring position. Players like Mookie Betts (1.052 OPS in the second half), Rafael Devers (1.130) and Xander Bogaerts (1.232) have put together MVP-caliber runs.
The team that leads all of baseball in runs since the All-Star break is just 10-7 since the Mid-Summer Classic with an ERA of 5.06. Boston has posted a bullpen ERA of 5.20 over that span, worst in the American League. And while this weekend’s series continued to reveal some serious issues with the Yankees pitching staff too (New York starters have posted an unbelievable 7.89 ERA since the break), it would take a 2011 Red Sox type collapse for the Bombers to lose their lead in the division.
The trade deadline looms just days away, but it seems unlikely Boston will make a mega deal ahead of it. Sox GM Dave Dombrowski already made his move to bolster the starting rotation with a depth move for Andrew Cashner (who had the best start of this young Red Sox career Friday night against New York) and a deal bringing back a large contract seems unlikely. All indications are Boston would like to avoid a $246 million luxury tax threshold that would cost them heavily in both tax dollars and the draft.
So the Sox could make some incremental improvements to the bullpen (Mets closer Edwin Diaz’s name has been thrown around), but they’ll more than likely try to right the ship on the mound with the guys they already have on the roster.
A robust offense can cover up some pretty big holes in the pitching staff for a while, but not forever. Enjoy this weekend for what it was, but the Sox are still basically where they were before it started.