The tenure of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is again being called into question after ace David Price lost to his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, by a score of 4-0 yesterday afternoon at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the rubber game of the three-game set.
Pitching coach Carl Willis may be under the microscope as well.
The Red Sox went 2-4 on the road trip that ended yesterday, culminating in a lackluster 10-16 record for the month of June. An upcoming nine-game homestand, starting with three games against the Los Angeles Angels that commence tomorrow night, could possibly be decisive for John Farrell’s job security.
Rays starter and winner Matt Moore was actually tossing a no-hitter against Boston until catcher Christian Vazquez singled in the sixth.
Both Eduardo Rodriguez (who lost game one of the three-game series as Boston got shelled 13-7) and Price had lots of trouble with the Rays’ otherwise offensively challenged lineup, which includes at least three minor leaguers. Rick Porcello, who along with knuckleballer Steven Wright has been relatively steady on the mound, won the middle game.
Price, who earns $30 million a year after signing a huge free agent contract with the Red Sox in the offseason, gave up a solo homer to right fielder Brandon Guyer, just off the disabled list, in the second inning and then three runs in the third for a total of nine hits and four earned runs in 6-1/3 innings. His record is now 8-5 and 1-4 in the month of June. Price’s ERA has grown to an un-ace-like 4.74. Sox reliever Heath Hembree looked sharp in relief, however.
First baseman Hanley Ramirez left the game in the eighth inning after appearing to injure his back or his rib cage on a swing and miss in the sixth.
Although the Red Sox sent a number of fly balls out to the warning track, they just couldn’t get anyone across home plate against the AL basement-dwelling Rays, including an inability to cash in on a bases-loaded situation in the sixth. They left seven men on base in the outing.
In the previous inning, with two men on and two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. — apparently running on his own — was thrown out trying to steal third, killing any chance of a potential rally.
With 10 strikeouts in the game, Price has taken over the AL strikeout lead from Rays hurler Chris Archer (who ironically has the most losses in the AL), which is little consolation given the team’s and his continuing struggles.
Price had a long conversation with the home plate umpire in between one of the innings, presumably about the strike zone, an interaction which is quite unusual.
Separately, lots of questions have been raised about John Farrell’s in-game management, including lineup and pinch-hitting choices. In several instances during post-game press conferences, he has been seemingly unable to clearly explain his decision-making.
David Price and his manager don’t seem to be on the same page either. After the game, David Price declared that he needs to pitch better and that his recent mound outings have been unacceptable.
“It’s probably the worst changeup I’ve had in probably a month. Curveball was awful. Can’t get my cutter or my slider where I want to, and I’m not commanding my fastball the way that I need to. That’s why I’m bad right now.”
Hired after the Bobby Valentine disaster as the “new sheriff in town” with the John Wayne persona, John Farrell led the Red Sox to the World Series championship in 2013, but the team finished in last place in the American League East in the subsequent two seasons.
Farrell is a cancer survivor, and there has chatter, perhaps unfair, that he would have been let go last season given the team’s underperformance absent his medical leave of absence. While Farrell was on sick leave for lymphoma treatment, bench coach Torey Lovullo managed the Red Sox to a 28-20 record and was rewarded with a contract extension and a raise, which likely convinced him not to pursue a managing job with another team.
Parenthetically, irrespective of whether the sharks might be circling around John Farrell, in addition to the Ted Williams museum, which contains a lot of fascinating baseball memorabilia, Tropicana Field also features a 35-foot, 10,000-gallon rays touch tank in the right-center field.
A managerial change may not be the solution to the Red Sox woes, according to NESN columnist John Tomase, which also extends to the bullpen and the offense.
“Farrell may be part of the problem, but he’s certainly not the reason the floundering Red Sox are suddenly in a virtual tie with the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East. And firing him would let his players off the hook when they don’t deserve it. No manager is blameless when his team plays.385 ball for a month, but Farrell’s sliver of blame pie could barely feed a waif compared to the 1,600-calorie slab that is his roster…The more you think about it, the more firing Farrell feels like a move of desperation, the biggest nuke in a limited arsenal. It’s also a monster cop-out that undeservedly absolves the players for underachieving.”
Speculation/pressure is increasing that Sox team president Dave Dombrowski will have to make a trade for at least one arm and possibly being forced to give up some highly touted minor league prospects in the exchange.
Do you think that John Farrell will be the Boston Red Sox manager for the entire 2016 MLB season?
[Photo by Chris Szagola/AP Images]