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April 24, 2011

Red Sox early struggles no reason to panic

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Written by: Greg Murray
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To start the year, the Boston Red Sox were swept by the Texas Rangers… 0 and 3.

They then traveled to Cleveland and got swept by the Indians… 0 and 6.

That’s right. The Boston Red Sox, the favorite of many to win the World Series began the year losing their first six games. The team managed to take two of three from the division rival New York Yankees before continuing their losing streak, getting swept in a two game set against the Rays.

The day was Friday, April 15, and the Sox sat with a 2-9 record; bad enough not only for last in the AL East, but also the worst record in MLB.

In my AL East Preview a few weeks ago, I predicted the Red Sox to win the division, and continue to represent the American League in the World Series. Three weeks later the Red Sox are still in last place in the East, and I still stand by my prediction.

Fans in Boston could not help but panic as they witnessed their Sox fall to the bottom of the division. On the other end, the Yankees wasted no time in taking a division lead.

Fear not Red Sox Nation, it is Mid-April. In MLB history, six teams have begun 2-9 or worse and gone on to make the postseason. Most recently, the 2001 Oakland Athletics turned things around to win 102 games. The 1991 Twins came back from a 2-9 start to not only make the playoffs, but became World Series Champions.

Realistically, it is very difficult for team to survive the entire 162 game schedule without losing six straight, the Red Sox just happened to do it to begin the season.

Early critics have begun to point the finger at outfielder Carl Crawford. In 16 games thus far, Crawford is hitting a disappointing .149 with only three runs batted in. Other starters struggling are fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both of who are batting below the .200 mark.

Carl Crawford has not finished a season with a batting average under .270 since his rookie campaign in 2002. There is a reason why he makes $15 million a year. All Crawford needs to do is call up Jason Giambi and throw on one of his infamous golden thongs, and he will be just fine.

What Sox fans should be surprised about so far is the play of SS Jed Lowrie. For years the team has been searching for a solid everyday shortstop that can produce both offensively and defensively. So far this season, Lowrie is batting a stunning .463, causing all sorts of problems for pitchers.

On the mound the return of Josh Beckett has been encouraging. After three starts, Beckett is 2-1 with an ERA under two. Having him at this kind of level going forward will be an excellent supplement to go along with Jon Lester and John Lackey.

The point is that there is absolutely no reason to panic this early in the season. The baseball season is a grueling 162 games long, and the fact that some are already writing off this Red Sox team is ludicrous.

Baseball is a game about adjustments. Everyone will go on a hot streak, and everyone will go in a slump. It is about how a team deals with adversity and comes back from these slumps that will determine the final outcome.

The 2011 Boston Red Sox have way too much talent to play at this level for an entire year. Even in last place, the team still only sits 4.5 games out of first place. I have witnessed a team come back from that deficit in one week. Luckily for the Red Sox, there are 23 more weeks in the regular season.

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About the Author

Greg Murray
Greg is a junior at IU majoring in Sport Communication: Broadcasting. He is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.


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