August 13, 2018: Red Sox are 50 games over .500, cruising to an American League East title with a 10-game lead on second-place New York.
August 13, 2020: The Red Sox cemented its existence as the worst team in the American League.
So, how did we get here?
It's a question that was being shouted through various social media channels and in more than a few living rooms as Thursday's 17-8 loss to the Rays unfolded. In an epic year of worsts, this was the worst for this organization. Cheating scandal. Managerial change. Mookie Betts trade. Chris Sale's Tommy John surgery. Eduardo Rodriguez's heart condition. All bad. (For a complete box score, click here.)
But when it comes to the brand of the Boston Red Sox, this was the low point.
The final two pitchers? That would be infielder Jose Peraza -- who got one out before taking a line drive off the knee -- and catcher Kevin Plawecki. By the time the ninth inning rolled around the Red Sox had a catcher pitching, an infielder (Tzu-Wei Lin) catching, and a catcher (Christian Vazquez) catching.
"I think once Peraza got smoked in the knee, that’s about as bad as it gets," lamented Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke.
Oh, and by the way, the pitching probables for the Red Sox heading into their series with the Yankees this weekend? TBA, Nathan Eovaldi, TBA, TBA. (Spoiler: TBA has not been good for this team this season.)
"I really don’t need to make a message after that," Roenicke added. "They know. When you see heads hanging after a game, they realize that we’ll have an advance meeting tomorrow and I'll probably say some things to them but it’s just the way it’s going, just going through a bad point. We keep talking about how we need to turn it around and we’re not doing that. Guys just need to relax and play how they’re capable. There are some good players on this team and I still have a lot of confidence in them. So I still think it’s going to show up but it’s hard watching games like that. I know Kyle Hart, he didn't locate the ball like he wants to and he’s going to rely on locating but we didn't help him at all defensively and that’s what I feel bad about. He’s out there for his first time pitching in the big leagues and he needs to get all the outs he can get and we didn't help him."
There are always games like this in a baseball season. The Red Sox' record after 19 games was exactly the same as this group (6-13). And it would seem fairly logical that Bloom's task of tearing it down in order to build it back up will ultimately pay some dividends. There have also been some intriguing pieces thrown into the equation, such as Rule 5 guy Jonathan Arauz (now hitting .348). And a few of the relievers such as Phillips Valdez and Matt Osich have given the impression of becoming bullpen staples. Plawecki also seems like a pretty good backup catcher (and emergency pitcher).
Ultimately, Bloom's story is yet to be told. The reality is that first chapter really doesn't even get going until after the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
But it still shouldn't be this ugly. Not in this market, with this payroll. Not considering the celebration that was taking place just 656 days before.
So, once again, how did we get here?
The reality is that his year's edition has always seemed like a dip-our-toes-in-the-quicksand kind of team rather than let's dive head-first into life as a legitimate pennant contender. There were always too many hope-for-the-best scenarios mixed in with the expectations that life without Betts, David Price, Rick Porcello and even Brock Holt would make everybody gladly shoulder a bit more of the load.
Instead, it all went the other way.
It has been a bad combination made worse by the altered state of things. Too many unproven entities whose integration into the team was made appreciably more difficult by this season of isolation. A new manager who can't walk into a clubhouse and get to read the room. A roster that had so many pieces without defined existences that any sort of early-season rhythm became a long-shot. Underachievers. Fringe major-leaguers. Key injuries.
Whatever the case, this seems less like a major-league team than Boston has staked claim to than ... well, considering the state of the starting pitching, it's hard to think of one this bad.
This isn't a roster full of malcontents. These guys aren't seemingly folding up their tents. And Roenicke is clearly trying to make the most of about as awkward a situation a first-year manager could be introduced to. But this is a results business and business in Boston is about as bad as it can be.