Boston’s Rafael Devers reacts after grounding out during the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Devers entered the game chasing pitches outside the strike zone at a staggering 44.9 percent. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

You have to score runs to win a game. It’s the simplest truth in baseball. No hitters have been lost because a team was unable to generate offense for a pitcher.

In 1992, Matt Young of the Red Sox threw eight no-hit innings in Cleveland, but walked seven batters and allowed two runs. Meantime, the Sox couldn’t do much at the plate, a Luis Rivera RBI single was all they could muster against the Indians.

Young, and the Sox, lost the game 2-1. He didn’t even get credit for a no hitter because the Indians were the home team and didn’t have to bat in the ninth. Eight innings of no-hit baseball gets you a pat on the back, but it doesn’t get you a place in history.

This history lesson is a reminder that the Red Sox subpar start isn’t just about pitching. In fact, the Boston rotation has quietly come around of late, posting a 2.50 ERA through four games heading into Monday. The bullpen has been good, too, giving up just three runs in 18 innings of work over that span.

The Sox won three of those four games. Should’ve been four-for-four, but the 2-1 loss on Saturday night reminded us all that you can’t win if you don’t score runs.

The Red Sox entered the week hitting just .236 as a team. The good news is that offense is down around baseball, and that is amazingly the 11th best batting average in the game. Pitchers seem to be way ahead of hitters since the pandemic interrupted the season for more than three months.

Many fans were ready to give up on this team after the first week of the season, in large part because the starting rotation seemed to be unfit to compete against the game’s best hitters. After Opening Day the Sox found themselves trailing by five runs or more by the fifth inning in the next four games. Not surprisingly they lost all four.

The bats were also quiet in those losses, but we dismissed that as a byproduct of falling behind so early in each game.

It’s more of a concern now that the pitching has come around. It’s time for the Sox offense to follow suit. Perhaps Sunday’s game was the starting point.

Rafael Devers entered Sunday’s game hitting just .170, chasing pitches outside the strike zone at a staggering 44.9 percent. Yet he tied the game with a home run in the sixth, and followed that with a couple of terrific defensive plays in the seventh to keep it tied.

Mitch Moreland saved the day with a walk-off home run.

Yet J.D. Martinez went 0 for 4 and saw his batting average fall to .196. He entered Monday’s game without an RBI since Opening Day. This, from a hitter who drove in more runs than anyone in baseball over the last two years.

Andrew Benintendi ended the weekend hitting .056. He had two hits in 47 plate appearances – and one of them was a bunt. Devers was still fighting to get back to the Mendoza Line.

In a normal season, all of this would be dismissed as a slow start, with months of baseball ahead. That’s not the case in 2020. With Sunday’s game the Sox had already played a quarter of the season.

“We all realize it’s 60 games,” said Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke. “You still have the same issues you do in the long season. Even though you feel an urgency to play well, do you sit a guy? I talked yesterday about moving Benny in the lineup. You do all these things to try to get them out of it and back to where you know they’re capable of playing. It doesn’t really change how you address the issues that go on. Nothing really changes how we deal with the players and try to get them out of slumps.”

The difference is the Sox have less time to get out of them. The good news is the pitchers have shown the way. It doesn’t take long to turn the season around. A few good games can get things going in the right direction.

All you need to do is score a few more runs.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.


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