Commentary

Any way it's sliced, numbers are striking

What's gone wrong for the 0-6 Red Sox? Simply put: Anything and everything

Updated: April 7, 2011, 11:31 PM ET
By Jeremy Lundblad | ESPNBoston.com

Friday's home opener was supposed to be a celebration. A first look at a team to remember.

After years of anticipation, Adrian Gonzalez will play his first game at Fenway Park.

The left-field torch is passing to Carl Crawford, as he dons a Boston Red Sox uniform in the spot where Williams, Yaz and Rice once roamed.

The Red Sox faithful get to witness a healthy squad after an injury-plagued 2010.

On top of all of that, the New York Yankees come to town.

Those storylines haven't gone anywhere. They're just lost in the massive shadow of 0-6.

After Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox are off to their worst start since 1945. At 0-6, they tied for the second worst start in franchise history (1905 and 1927).

That 1945 team started 0-8 with the likes of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky serving in the war. The oldest living Hall of Famer, Doerr turned 93 on Thursday. A sixth-straight Boston loss wasn't much of a present.

Now, with the Red Sox at their lowest (so far), the Yankees come to town for three games smelling weakness. By Monday, Boston could be looking at the worst start in franchise history at 0-9.

No doubt, this losing streak is receiving extra attention because it's kept the Red Sox winless on the season. A six-game losing streak hurts in the final standings just as much in April as it does in July.

At the same time, six losses in a row is nothing to scoff at no matter when it happens. It matches the team's longest string of losses at any time during a season since Terry Francona took over in 2004.

A loss on Friday would make seven. That would be the longest losing streak since the 2001 season fell apart with nine losses in a row at the end of August.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's been 13 years since the Red Sox beat the Yankees to snap a six-game losing streak. Bret Saberhagen got the win and Mo Vaughn homered in that win on May 30, 1998.

All the typical joy of a home opener has been doused by the reality of 0-6.

Talk of 100 wins has been replaced by hope for just one.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

Entering the season, AccuScore gave Boston a 66.8 percent chance of reaching the postseason. Based on 10,000 simulations, the Red Sox were projected to win 94.9 games.

Those calculations have been revised after the 0-6 start. Now, Boston is projected to win 85.7 games, and AccuScore has almost been chopped the Sox's postseason forecast in half, to 36.6 percent.

For a team with such high expectations, such a start seems unimaginable. Indeed, coming into the season, the Red Sox started 0-6 in just 1.4 percent of AccuScore's projections. An 0-7 start? That happened a mere 0.8 percent of the time.

So how did this happen?

Quite simply, nothing is going as planned. The Red Sox keep finding new and improbable ways to lose.

Thursday's loss to the Indians took that to a new level.

Boston was blanked by Fausto Carmona, who gave up 10 runs in his first start of the season. The last time a pitcher allowed 10-plus runs in his first start and none in his second without a relief appearance in between? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, you have to go back to 1905, when H. Dick Harley did that for the Boston Braves.

How about losing 1-0 with the only run scored on a squeeze bunt? Here's one example you might actually remember.

It also happened on Aug. 30, 1988 in an epic pitching duel between Roger Clemens and Dave Stewart. Looking to manufacture a run against Clemens, Oakland A's manager Tony La Russa called for a suicide squeeze in the sixth inning with Carney Lansford on third base. Glenn Hubbard got the bunt down, and Todd Benzinger didn't have a play at the plate. Oakland went on to win 1-0.

Consider that both of those rarities took place in the same game.

Wednesday was equally bizarre, headlined by a Dennis Reyes' sixth-inning implosion. The southpaw faced only three batters, hitting two and walking one. That's happened only five other times in the past 90 years.

If quirky losses were the theme of the Indians' sweep, the Rangers simply overpowered Boston in the first series of the season.

Texas' 11 home runs were the second most in MLB history through three games.

Even if nothing is going their way, the Red Sox aren't losing by fluke.

After seven scoreless innings from Jon Lester on Thursday, Red Sox starters still have a 6.68 ERA. The bullpen (8.04) has been even worse.

Through six games, the offense has managed 16 runs. That's just one more than the 1945 team had at this point.

The vaunted Red Sox lineup returns to Fenway with a .181 batting average and a .544 OPS.

So far, the Red Sox are fielding the lineup equivalent of nine Travis Woods. Last season, Wood hit .189 with a .568 OPS for Reds, so it's actually a bit worse than that. And yes, he's a pitcher.

With runners in scoring position, the Red Sox are struggling even more, hitting .159 with just three hits in their last 37 at-bats (.081 BA).

Silver linings? Those are tough to find. Even for the most optimistic, even with 156 games to go.

But Friday is a new beginning. At home, the Red Sox are 0-0, undefeated, if you prefer your glass half full.

The Red Sox have even won their past six home openers.

"It can't get any worse than this," Kevin Youkilis said after Thursday's loss. "There's only one way to go."

Jeremy Lundblad is a senior researcher with ESPN Stats & Information. He provides statistical analysis for ESPNBoston.com.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information

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