By Norm Elrod
(CBS Boston/CBS Local) — The World Series champion Boston Red Sox and National League Central favorite Chicago Cubs both started the 2019 MLB season on the road. Neither road trip went well. The Red Sox stumbled to a 3-8 record, and the Cubs a 2-7 mark. So just a week and a half into their seasons, both teams already face questions. Look for both to try to turn it around in their first series at home. The Cubs certainly took a step forward in yesterday’s win. And the Red Sox hope to do the same this afternoon.
Early season struggles also continue for Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who just broke a record he’d rather not own. New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso is enjoying a strong start, offering more hope for the Mets’ faithful that their fortunes are looking up. The season is still young, and a lot of baseball remains. So we’ll see what happens.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the Red Sox and Cubs’ early-season woes, Davis’s struggles at the plate and Alsonso’s success with the Mets.
Red Sox, Cubs Start Slow
The World Series champions and AL favorites are off to a bad start. Going into Tuesday’s home opener, the Red Sox are an unimpressive 3-8, winning one game in each of their first three series against the Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks. Two of their wins came by one run, and the A’s shut them out twice. The Red Sox starters — a team strength — have an 8.57 ERA, with opposing hitters batting .320. The team has been outscored by a league-worst 26 runs. Starting the season with an 11-game road trip across the country didn’t help, though it’s also not an excuse. They have their home opener at Fenway Tuesday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays, who also come in with a 3-8 record.
The Chicago Cubs, predicted by many to win the NL Central, are currently 3-7 and struggling. Going into Monday afternoon’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs were off to their worst nine-game start since 1997. The Cubs lost two of three to the Texas Rangers to open the season, and then were swept by the Atlanta Braves before losing two more to the Milwaukee Brewers. Hitting hasn’t been the problem, with the team batting .289 with 18 home runs so far. But the pitching hasn’t been good. Even after Monday’s shutout win in their home opener, the team ERA is an MLB-worst 6.70, with problems across the rotation and in the bullpen. But a 10-0 walloping of the Pittsburgh Pirates is a step in the right direction. So maybe the Cubs are starting to figure things out.
Chris Davis Breaks Unfortunate Record
Once a feared slugger, the Orioles Chris Davis is fast becoming an MLB joke. After Monday night’s game, the first baseman is hitless in his last 49 at-bats, extending back to last season. With his 0-5 performance last night against the Oakland A’s, Davis broke the record for consecutive hitless at-bats. The record was previously held by Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez, who went went 46 straight at-bats without a hit in 2011. Davis is coming off a historically bad season at the plate, hitting .168 with 190 strikeouts in 470 at-bats. His seven-year, $161 million contract, signed three years ago, is turning into one of the worst in MLB history. The Orioles did win the game, which also featured the lowest attendance in Camden Yards history. So that’s a bright spot.
Mets Rookie Pete Alonso Surprises
The Mets are also all too familiar with futility. But their rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has started the season hitting the way Chris Davis wishes he still could. Alsonso is .382 at the plate, with three home runs and 11 RBIs. His first home run, an approximately 450-foot blast against the Marlins, helped the Mets pull out a win. Alonso added two home runs over the weekend in their series with the Nationals. The Mets are currently 6-3 in the competitive National League East, but a lot of baseball remains.