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Alex Speier

Looking at the Red Sox’ meh performance against sub-.500 teams

Eduardo Rodriguez was tagged for six runs in five innings against Toronto Tuesday night.Fred Thornhill/CP via AP/The Canadian Press via AP

There’s a good chance the Red Sox will look back on the initial months of the 2019 season as a missed opportunity.

The 10-3 loss to the Blue Jays Tuesday night in Toronto represented the continuation of a wasteful early-season pattern. Among the six American League teams with winning records — the Astros, Twins, Yankees, Rays, Indians, and Red Sox — Boston has lagged behind most of their contending rivals in terms of taking advantage of the schedule.

Already, the Red Sox have played 35 games against teams with sub-.500 records — second most in the majors, behind only the Indians (37). Yet the Sox have gone a relatively modest 20-15 (.571) instead of beefing up their record.

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Meanwhile, they have posted a 5-8 record against baseball’s better teams (although two of those losses were against the Yankees when their starting rotation was struggling).

The gap between the Sox and most of the teams ahead of them in the playoff hunt comes from the failure to bulldoze lesser opponents.

The Astros are 16-2 against sub-.500 teams, the Yankees 22-9, and the Rays 18-8.

Looking at the Red Sox meh performance against sub .500 teams
Team Overall record vs. .500+ Teams vs. Under-.500 Teams
Astros 33-16 17-14 (.548) 16-2 (.889)
Twins 32-16 8-8 (.500) 24-8 (.750)
Yankees 30-17 8-8 (.500) 22-9 (.710)
Rays 27-18 9-10 (.474) 18-8 (.692)
Cleveland 25-22 4-6 (.400) 21-16 (.568)
Red Sox 25-23 5-8 (.385) 20-15 (.571)
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference.com

The chief culprit for the Red Sox has been their pitching. The outing by Eduardo Rodriguez Tuesday against Toronto (6 runs, 3 home runs in 5 innings) added to his early-season troubles.

Red Sox pitchers have a 4.32 ERA against teams with sub-.500 records, 20th in baseball and last among AL contenders. By contrast, the Rays (2.74) and Astros (2.80) have sub-3.00 ERAs against such competition, while the other contenders are all well below 4.00.

Case in point: The Blue Jays. The Red Sox are 2-2 against Toronto, a rebuilding team that features one of the worst offenses in the majors. Yet in three of the four contests between the teams, the Jays have scored at least six runs — including a season-high 10 Tuesday and a seven-run outburst earlier this year at Fenway.

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There is time for the defending World Series champions to regain their 2018 form against lesser competition. But with a third of the season nearly concluded, they for now are on the outside looking in at the playoff field.


Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.