OOTP 17 - Season 1 - Boston Red Sox - April

Boston opened up the season on the road in Cleveland, superstar offseason signing David Price took the ball for opening day and quickly dug the team into a hole. He settled down over the later innings but the damage had already been done and Boston dropped it's first game of the year. A battling performance in game 2, backing Rick Porcello saw the Red Sox even the series before Julio Teheran lost game 3.

The Red Sox flew on from Cleveland hoping to turn things around in Toronto. The Red Sox lost a tough 6-4 decision in the opener with the bullpen imploding while I tried to identify some reinforcements to an obvious weakness in the team. Having investigated the free agent market I targeted Jason Frasor as a decent addition to our motley crew of relievers but the negotiating saga would run on into May. Thankfully the waiver wire bore some fruit with Drew Pomeranz and Edwin Jackson falling into our laps. It took a few days to execute the waiver claims but both were added to our bullpen by mid-April.

Following on from the tough opening game loss of the Toronto series the Red Sox managed to go on a real tear, winning the last two games of our road trip before returning to Boston for 11 straight games.

First up was Baltimore who had been leading the AL East, two 7-4 victories lead on to a 10-1 thumping and we went into our first rest day of the season on a 5 game win streak. Toronto traveled down to Boston for a 4 game series that would have a lasting impact on both teams.

Expecting an explosive offensive performance from both teams you could be excused for wondering just what happened, especially to Toronto. Unfortunately for them star RF Jose Bautista picked up an injury in the first inning of the opening game that would see him miss a number of months. Boston also picked up their share of injuries with Chris Young and Jackie Bradley Jr picking up injuries in consecutive games that would see them sit out the next 5-6 weeks before even starting a rehab assignment in Pawtucket. With a severely depleted outfield it was up to the rejuvenated Hanley Ramirez and Big Papi to pick up the Red Sox and carry them through the series. another 3 victories followed against Tampa Bay before the Red Sox flew down to play against Rusney Castillo in his new home with the Houston Astros.

Considering the lack of numbers in the outfield trading away Rusney may seem like a bad bit of business, but his offensive output had been severely limited and did not match his rather large contract so I was still happy with that bit of business. Picking up 3 wins in Houston definitely helped.

Then it was time to play against our other big trade partner, the Atlanta Braves. These guys have quickly become my bogey team and a rain delay lead to a double-header where Matt Barnes, who until this point had been a strong starter, gave up 7 runs in less than 2 innings. Accepting that this game was already done and dusted I moved my attention to the second game, and having lead through 8 innings, it was a sickening loss to take when the big Dombrowski signing of Craig Kimbrel gave up 3 runs in the ninth inning to cost us the game and saw us swept aside by the Braves.

To add insult to injury the opening game of the series saw a struggling Clay Buchholz take the mound and shut down our potent offence, ending a 15 game win streak.

Splitting the last two games of the month with the Yankees, the final game of the series fell into May, saw us maintain our position at the top of the AL East but a number of deficiencies have been highlighted in the team. First and foremost the bullpen really struggle to hold on to a lead, even the best relievers we have seem to be struggling this season.

Secondly, we need some consistency from our starters outside of Rick Porcello. I had thought that Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly were offering this but in their final games of the month both gave up a shedload of runs.

Thirdly, our depth in the outfield is being sorely tested. Bryce Brentz is doing a decent job of filling in and Brock Holt is helping out but next on the depth chart is Ryan LaMarre. A decent defensive outfielder but I am not sure we can rely on his bat for anything but double play balls.

Finally, while we were very strong at home there has to be concern about our form on the road. 6-7 on the road is not great and just one result in Atlanta could have swung it the other way but there are problems here and I haven't quite identified how I am going to fix them. In comparison our 11-1 record at home is outstanding and we really have made our home Fortress Fenway for the moment. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into May and beyond with a playoff spot ours for the taking.




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