This entire Red Sox season has been maddening
MINNEAPOLIS — To borrow an old line from "Forrest Gump," "The Red Sox are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Good pitching. Bad pitching. Good hitting. No hitting.
A three-game losing streak, then a two-game winning streak. The Red Sox, 7-2 losers to the Twins Monday, have won three straight games only once this season (April 9-11).
Up and down.
Just when you thought they might get on a roll, Joe Kelly went out and spotted the Twins seven runs on eight hits in less than two innings. He continues to jeopardize his status in the starting rotation.
That good feeling, momentum, was gone in a snap in the first game of a seven-game road trip against the Twins and the Rangers, who gave the Red Sox problems last week at Fenway.
"The attitude, the feel, the energy in the clubhouse this morning was built upon the last two days, and so a game like today is very disappointing," said manager John Farrell.
You can tell that Farrell is getting sick of the inconsistency of his team. Just when he thinks things are starting to snowball, the Red Sox come up with the blahs again. He has to keep changing lineups, and just when he thinks his pitching staff is turning the corner, both Rick Porcello and Kelly throw up.
You can't come out lackluster against the Twins. These aren't your Fort Myers spring training Minnesota Twins.
The Twins have come a long way since that day late in spring training when they learned that their big free agent signing, righthander Ervin Santana, had been suspended 80 games for a positive PED result.
I still remember the look on Twins general manager Terry Ryan's face.
Then came a 1-6 start to the season. But the Twins have rebounded and have gone 25-12 since. They've become a viable playoff team, and they'll get Santana back on July 4, almost like making a trade deadline deal for a front-line starting pitcher.
The Twins should be Boston's model. They have been so consistent.
Monday's loss was also surprising in that the Red Sox have played well at Target Field; they were 10-5 here coming into the game, and David Ortiz was hitting .509 (29 for 57) in the park. But Ortiz went 0 for 4, and the red-hot Mike Napoli, who had four homers in his last three games, was kept in the park (although he had two hits).
But for a good 48 hours or so, there was optimism. And, ladies and gentlemen, that's been the shelf life on optimism for this Red Sox team: two games.
Just when you think Player X is turning the corner, he has a stinker. Kelly had pitched two really good games in a row, allowing one and two runs. He was popping the ball at 97-99 m.p.h.
Xander Bogaerts went 4 for 4 on Sunday, 0 for 4 on Monday.
It's obvious that Hanley Ramirez, who drove in his first run in May with a third-inning single, isn't right. His movements suggest that his shoulder hurts and he can't drive the ball. His movements in left field are slow and calculated. There's no letting loose.
This entire Red Sox season has been maddening.
It is so different from the 2013 team, when seven free agents came together almost instantly and helped win a World Series title. This group of new players has taken its time to jell and still hasn't.
Obviously, the personnel losses from last year are huge. Jon Lester meant a lot to this team. Beyond his pitching prowess, he brought a toughness to the game every fifth day. He was an intense competitor. Ditto John Lackey.
When it was suggested that this might be an issue, GM Ben Cherington didn't agree.
"We have tough players," Cherington said. "I don't think that's an issue with this group."
Shane Victorino brought toughness in 2013, but his rash of injuries has created an opposite effect in 2015.
Cherington believes the effort level is high. The will to win is high. But there is trouble sustaining anything positive.
If toughness isn't the issue, then something hasn't quite come together. Something is holding them back. What?
Cherington acknowledged that he felt fortunate that the other teams in the division haven't gotten it together either. They have their own flaws, blemishes, call them what you want.
The fact is, this Red Sox team shouldn't have flaws, blemishes, holes. Cherington built it to have a high-powered offense and a very good pitching staff. The offense, which had picked things up on the homestand, slumped back against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco.
When you break it down, Boston’s most consistent player in 2015 is Junichi Tazawa, the set-up reliever. Even on Monday, the most impressive player was reliever Matt Barnes, who gave the Red Sox 3⅓ innings of scoreless relief.
It's time for the most impressive players to be the everyday players and the high-priced starting pitchers. They need a consistent offense, a starting rotation that can go two or three turns without putting up two stinkers to offset spark-plug performances by Steven Wright and Wade Miley.
Who knows? They may win Tuesday night and the optimism may come back.
But will there come a day soon when they reach into that box of chocolates and come up with the same flavor day after day?