Together, they combined for 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. There was optimism that both players could keep things up, that Aviles could end Boston’s shortstop jinx and Ross could become a fixture in the outfield.
But when the calendar turned to May, the duo stopped hitting—at least at the blistering pace that they started the season on. Simultaneously, Boston stopped winning.
Since May 1, the Red Sox have gone 4-8. Their pitching staff continues to be a problem, and now they can add an inconsistent offense to their list of woes. In five of their 12 games this month (all losses), the Red Sox have scored three runs or fewer.
While both players are capable of finishing 2012 with solid seasons, they remain complimentary offensive players. To expect them to carry the team for an entire season is unfair. Boston’s best strategy for overcoming Ross’ and Aviles’ cold spells is one of the following.
1. Hope that Adrian Gonzalez starts hitting
Boston’s first baseman is hitting a solid .292 with a .359 OBP, but with just two home runs and 19 RBIs, he is lagging far behind his slugger’s pace from a season ago.
On the plus side, he seems to be past the cold spell that plagued his early season. Now it’s time for Gonzalez to start driving the ball and earning his seven-year, $154 million contract extension.
2. Get healthy
Three of Boston’s most potent bats—Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Carl Crawford (let’s give Crawford the benefit of the doubt for now)—are currently on the DL.
Once that trio returns, Ross and Aviles will see more (and better) pitches to hit, and won’t be weighed down by the pressure of having to completely replace their production.
3. Pitch better
Easier said than done, obviously. But when your pitching staff is so poor that an offense feels like it has to score a ton of runs in order to win, that offense is going to tighten up.
Give the offense the confidence of having a capable (if not potent) pitching staff behind them, and they will start hitting, no strings attached.
Ideally, all three things can happen for the Red Sox. After a miserable start in which little has gone wrong, perhaps the team is due for something to reverse its fortunes.
That’s certainly the hope among the team and its nation of fans.