The Boston Red Sox are halfway through a six-game road trip that could prove to be the defining moment in their 2012 season. The Sox entered the series against the two best teams in baseball—the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees—occupying last place in the AL East with a 48-48 record.
After the first series in which the Sox lost two of three in Arlington, Boston is now in a virtual tie for fourth in the division, although the record has now slipped below .500 once again.
Boston officially owns the second-best offense in all of baseball, having scored 485 runs (just three fewer than Texas).
However, that doesn't tell the full story.
This lineup is very capable of putting up 10 runs on someone (something they have done 12 times this year), but this skews the stats. If this team is averaging 4.89 runs per game, they have to be going through long slumps to balance out the occasional offensive outburst.
That's exactly what has happened. In their last seven games (of which the Sox have lost five), they have scored 19 runs. That's fewer than three runs a game, and that itself is skewed by the seven runs they scored in a game against Toronto.
That is the only game in that stretch in which they scored more than three runs, and they still managed to lose 15-7. That brings us to...
Three Red Sox started games in this series: Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett. Buchholz was brilliant again, and though his statistics haven't yet gotten over his slow start, he clearly has.
Doubront and Beckett, though, were not good. Statistically, other than Aaron Cook, they have been Boston's best starters. But even they have a 4.54 and 4.57 ERA, respectively.
Beckett may have given up four runs in his seven innings on July 25, but he was somewhat fortunate, leaving the bases loaded in the second and allowing baserunners in all but one inning. Now WEEI.com is reporting that Boston's front office is fielding some "exploratory inquiries" about a possible trade for the righty.
Looking at Clay Buchholz's stats this season, it looks like the righty has had a truly abysmal season. His ERA is 4.93, he has allowed 15 home runs and has a career-worst 6.10 K-BB ratio.
Those numbers are just holdovers from his terrible start, though. It was one of the worst starts a Sox pitcher has ever had, and his numbers are still suffering because of it. But make no mistake, his recent performance has been excellent.
In his last eight starts, Buchholz has a 2.46 ERA, has averaged almost 7.1 innings per game, has 46 strikeouts and has walked more than two batters just once. His performance against the Rangers was just the second time in 22 games a Sox starter has gone seven innings while allowing only one run.
While on the disabled list with wrist and elbow wrist injuries earlier this season, the Boston Herald reported that Carl Crawford would need Tommy John surgery. Indeed, NESN quoted the left fielder as saying he would probably need it eventually.
In a way, it would be better if Crawford were struggling with an injury. At least that would offer an explanation for his struggles this season other than "He's just terrible."
He has been terrible, though. After a lackluster 2011 saw him post career-worst numbers across the board, Crawford started strong in his return from the DL in 2012. In his first 15 at-bats, he was 7-for-15 (.467) with a walk and an RBI.
Since then, though, Crawford has been a black hole in the lineup. He has zero hits in his last 16 at-bats, with no walks and eight strikeouts. He also was taken out of the game on July 24 for a defensive replacement as soon as the seventh inning.
There will be some people who wished the Red Sox had not traded Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox. After he was dealt to the South Side, Youk exploded offensively, proving the difference in three games for his new team and winning AL Player of the Week honors.
But it was the right move. Youk could not stay on this team without sending Will Middlebrooks to the minor leagues, as it would have meant leaving Adrian Gonzalez in right field indefinitely.
Boston had to choose between Youk and Middlebrooks; it chose the latter, and it was the right move.
In the last few days, Youkilis went down with an ankle injury—though he will likely avoid a DL stint—while Middlebrooks went 6-for-12 (.500) in the Rangers series with a solo home run.
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU and has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox on Bleacher Report since October 2010. You can talk to him or follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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