Even the vaunted Red Sox offense has yet to flex its muscles. Valentin, Vaughn and Canseco, the 2-3-4 hitters who combined for 90 home runs last year, had only six in the first three weeks of the season. At week's end Greenwell's average had sunk to .227 following an 0-for-19 drought, and the team as a whole was hitting .252 with runners in scoring position.
The pitching hasn't been nearly good enough to overcome the lack of offense. Clemens started 0-3 for the first time in his career. Tom Gordon (7.71 ERA) allowed 43 base runners in 21 innings. Wakefield, despite pitching well Saturday, is 2-11 with a 5.03 ERA (including one postseason start) since his 14-1 run last season. "Last year's team had a killer instinct," says Vaughn. "We're still searching for that. This team will not play like this forever. The danger is we might have dug a hole so damn deep, we can't get out."
The Red Sox need a 21-9 month just to reach .500. They need to play .600 ball the rest of the season to get to 90 wins. Kennedy has been reduced to Queeg-like soliloquies. Mitchell, the street-tough enforcer, says, "This is like when you're pinned up against a wall by nine gang members. What are you going to do? You've got to come out fighting."
Then there is the dogma of Vaughn. "You've got to keep digging," he says, "like the dogs dig for them bones."