OAKLAND, Calif. — Maybe Red Sox Nation is viewing the Red Sox as half-empty or completely empty. But manager John Farrell is viewing it half-full, and about to get fuller.
How can Farrell think this way following a 2-1, 10-inning loss? Because it was a 2-1, 10-inning loss. And the losses before it were close. In discussions with Farrell the past couple of days and his comments after the loss, he feels things are going to turn around and that the Red Sox will be a very good second-half team.
Farrell isn’t bailing on anything.
He’s confident there are better days ahead, and whether that means he knows reinforcements are coming in the form of Mookie Betts or someone from the outside, who knows?
He just figures that given the success of his pitching staff and a solidified defense, there’s no way this team will keep losing.
His comments after the game were in keeping with a column written in this space a few days ago when we mentioned that there is a foundation in place for a relaunch of this team.
When the pitching is this good — when a kid like Rubby De La Rosa goes out and pitches a gem and when the staff in general had been very good — you can see where Farrell is coming from.
But what else is left? Do you wake up every day and think the season is over, let’s give up, trade everyone and wait until next year? In some markets you could do that. But the standings keep telling you something else. They tell you that a team can get hot — just like the Kansas City Royals just did recently — and pretty much go from last in its division to first.
Farrell has certainly come under scrutiny this season for in-game moves. Why would he start Edward Mujica in the 10th when he used Koji Uehara in the inning anyway? Things like that. But we know what the bigger problem is. It’s the team’s 4-for-48 hitting with runners in scoring position in their last eight games.
If the Red Sox hit reasonably well, they will win games because their pitching is really good and there aren’t many teams who can actually say it and back it up.
But one thing that’s been so great about Farrell is his even-keeled approach with his players. He’s trying to make them believe what he believes.
“Honestly, I look at it like this, we’re very close to becoming a team that could go on a run for an extended period. We have a number of things in place in terms of our pitching, our bullpen, our defense. We’ve had situations get away from us in terms of runners in scoring position,” Farrell said.
“We’re close in a number of ways. We’re able to keep games under control on defense and pitching, which keeps us in games and continues to build opportunities. Cashing in on them is what we need to focus on,” Farrell said.
The only problem with the positive attitude is that it has to be backed up by moves from the front office. I would guess there had to be a discussion between Farrell, general manager Ben Cherington, and his lieutenants after the game about how to get some offense.
The Red Sox, as we’ve mentioned have been scouting Matt Kemp, but Dodgers GM Ned Colletti indicated to this correspondent that he wasn’t selling Kemp now. The Red Sox are also scouting the St. Louis Cardinals in an upcoming series to see whether the Cardinals had interest in trading an outfielder.
Obviously, Cherington, given his comments of last week where he indicated that he needed to see proof this team was worth enhancing, probably has received positive reinforcement on that topic from Farrell.
While the trade season has begun, it’s early. The scouts are gathering their reports on possible trade partners. It’s a process that sometimes takes a few weeks and peaks around the July 31 deadline. Cherington can’t make other teams trade with him, but waiting that long might be too late for Boston.
So either Cherington has to make something happen or he has to take the chance that Betts could add some spark from the farm system.
Something’s got to give before it does get too far out of hand.
The Red Sox’ offense is in critical condition. And it’s right down the batting order except for Brock Holt, who was 3 for 4 with a walk Saturday.
Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, A.J. Pierzynski, Stephen Drew, Jonathan Herrera, Jackie Bradley Jr., and pinch-hitter Jhonny Gomes went 2 for 22. Dustin Pedroia was 1 for 5 though he contributed with the gutsy dash for home with the tying run in the eighth inning on Luke Gregerson’s wild pitch that didn’t go more than 5 feet away.
David Ortiz singled and walked in four trips but left some ducks on the pond. The Red Sox were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. This lack of offense is mind-imploding because it keeps going, with no end in sight.
It’s amazing Farrell hasn’t blown up. Everyone else watching NESN or even the Red Sox fans here in the Bay Area have never seen anything like it.
In their wins last Thursday and Friday against Cleveland at Fenway, they scored 15 runs. In the eight games since, they have also scored 15 runs.
And once in a while you’re going to slip in the areas you’re strong. Mujica, for instance, walked eight batters all of last season with St. Louis. This year he’s walked eight in 26⅔ innings, including a leadoff walk in the 10th inning on Saturday.
You can blame Mujica. You can blame Uehara for giving up the winning hit, but that’s nonsense. We know what the problem is. Farrell knows what the problem is. Everyone who hasn’t lived in a cave knows what the problem is.
Farrell thinks it can be fixed.
He’s hanging out some hope for you. Do you believe Farrell has a point or do you think it’s pie in the sky?
Might as well taste the pie, because if you don’t, the other taste will make you sick.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.