BALTIMORE — The hitting isn’t Tampa Bay Rays bad, but it’s bad.
The futility of the Red Sox’ offense has sadly reached mind-imploding levels.
The signing of free agent and former Giant Andres Torres, 36, probably isn’t going to be the answer. And let’s be clear, the Red Sox aren’t raising the switch-hitting Torres to those levels, but whatever it is, this lineup needs some serious help because there’s not much going right.
“He was a very good player for us,” said Giants general manager Brian Sabean. “I would want to see how his legs hold up. At one time he could play center field at a high level.”
We’ll see. Torres’s ascension to Boston, if it happens at all, is off in the distance. Too far to see right now after a 6-0 loss to the Orioles Wednesday night.
Wei-Yin Chen is a pretty good lefthander. Jonny Gomes called him a “poor man’s Jon Lester” before the game because he has a good cutter. But really, Chen, who had a 5.26 ERA against the Red Sox in nine previous starts, has no business stifling Boston’s bats as he did.
First inning, Brock Holt struck out, Xander Bogaerts popped out, and Dustin Pedroia struck out.
Let’s digress on Pedroia.
The gritty second baseman produced Boston’s first hit and got thrown out trying to stretch it to a double in the fourth inning. Yes, there were two outs, but Pedroia was trying to get the extra base when his team needed base runners. It was the perfect example of a leader trying too hard to make something happen. And in his will to make something happen, he made a costly mistake.
Chen retired the first 11 men he faced (including six strikeouts) before Pedroia’s single. After David Ortiz singled in the fifth, Mike Napoli popped to third and Gomes hit into a double play.
This offense has been frustrating, hair-raising, maddening, call it whatever you want. Manager John Farrell often points out that the Red Sox are getting their share of base runners (sixth-best OBP in the American League) but are not driving them in.
Not as bad as Tampa Bay’s .099 average with runners in scoring position over the last 15 games, but it’s been abysmal nonetheless.
The phrase you hear the most is “ride it out.” You hear it from the team, the players, and the scouts who have been on hand for this series from the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Angels, Phillies, Twins, White Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees.
“You have to hope it gets better. That one day all the guys you think can hit start stringing a bunch of hits together and the problem goes away. Because right now not sure anyone is in the desperation mode the Red Sox are in to partner up with them to make a deal,” said a scout in attendance Wednesday night.
It seems many teams are in ride-it-out mode. That’s because there are so many teams bunched together, and as awful as the Red Sox have been, they’re only five games back of the wild card.
For the moment, the Red Sox have gone the noncompensation method of solving their needs, first signing free agents Stephen Drew and Torres.
Normally that’s a good thing, but both have missed significant time and need time to get back into the swing of things.
Torres, in particular, is coming off an Achilles’ issue with bone spurs. He starts at Lowell on Friday and will have to move his way up the ladder. It doesn’t appear the Red Sox have a lot of time to wait for reinforcements. They need them now.
Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks will go off on rehab assignments this weekend.
They need to Ortiz to come up with more big hits in the heart of the order.
They need Gomes to be that intangible, clutch hitter again.
They need the thunder from Napoli.
They need Lester to be that shutdown starting pitcher. Yes, everyone is allowed a bad start as Lester pointed out, but not now. They need Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront to come back strong from recent injuries.
The Red Sox have found a dependable starter in Brandon Workman and it’s unlikely he’s moving out of that spot anytime soon even if Buchholz and Doubront need to come back. return.
The Red Sox will have an easy swap out of Rubby De La Rosa for Doubront or Buchholz, but the second move will be more difficult and likely will cost a bullpen arm.
There are no options left on the pitchers in the bullpen you’d want to send down. So a tough decision may have to be made on either Edward Mujica or Chris Capuano, who was wild Wednesday night, walking in two runners.
When Middlebrooks comes back, Jonathan Herrera might be in peril. Because of Drew and the potential to move either Xander Bogaerts or Brock Holt to shortstop in a pinch, the Red Sox might be able to carry Middlebrooks as a multi-purpose corner infielder/DH. Who knows if he could see time in the outfield? He’ll likely stay in Pawtucket for a while, unless they feel he can be the spark.
Going home after this horrible three-city trip, which ended with scoring one run in three games here, is normally the cure-all, right?
The seven-game homestand will be against the Indians and Twins. The Indians handled the Red Sox easily at Progressive Field to begin this trip. And besides, Boston is 15-17 at Fenway.
There’s no refuge for this team now.
They are caught up in losing, in things not falling right. They have personnel tied up in transition. There’s no place to turn.
It’s a big waiting game. Waiting for the next win. Waiting for the next player to get healthy. Waiting for the next window where they can breathe again.
Because now, they’re holding their breath, hoping everyone else in their division continues to stink, so they can keep riding it out until it all goes their way.
If it ever goes their way.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.