Rafael Devers walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this season. The Red Sox struggled in April and May didn’t start very well either. Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via the Associated Press

April is the cruelest month.

-T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

I have no idea if T.S. Elliot was a Red Sox fan. He probably wasn’t, even though he was born to a prominent Boston family.

Yet his poetry rings true as the Sox turn the page to May. It was a cruel way to start a season that began with the residue of optimism left behind by last October’s scintillating postseason run.

Boston’s lack of offense has been shocking, and it has cost them games. The Sox lost 2 of 3 in Baltimore over the weekend, ending their longest trip since 2019 with a brutal 9-5 loss in a long day that featured a two-hour rain delay.

While it is still very early, the Sox have lost 11 of 16 games against AL East competition. They’ve played about 21% of their divisional games. With losing records against every team in the division, they will need to play from behind in the head-to-head standings. With no tiebreaker games under the new playoff format, these divisional meetings are more important than ever.

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This team was expected to score runs. Instead, they have been one of the worst offenses in baseball through the first month of the season. The Red Sox are swinging at more pitches than any team in baseball. More concerning, they are swinging at more pitches outside the zone than any team in the game.

If they were doing damage with those swings, that would be one thing. Instead, they have made contact with just 53% of those pitches outside the zone, the sixth-lowest percentage in the game.

The end result is an offense that is bottom third in MLB on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The Red Sox have scored two or fewer runs in eight of their past 13 games. And they’ve ruined a strong run of starting pitching. The rotation has posted a 2.00 ERA in the last 11 games. And yet the Sox have lost eight of those 11 games.

“They need CPR, the bats,” said catcher Christian Vazquez after Sunday’s game. “We need to figure it out quick. We have a great team and everybody knows the Red Sox are dangerous when they get hot.”

Boston’s bats, like the city’s weather, have been slow to heat up this spring. The starting pitching has kept them in games, but without offensive support the bullpen has crumbled in late-game situations. The Sox suffered walk-off losses in Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore. They are 0-4 in extra innings this season, the worst extra-innings record in baseball. And all four of those losses came on the road.

This team still believes in itself, and believes it will start scoring runs as the season rolls on. Monday’s off-day was one of the most desperately needed days off in recent memory. The Sox started the season with 23 games in 24 days — all but seven of them on the road.

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There was a glimmer of hope at the end of the trip: J.D. Martinez — who had missed six of the previous eight games with a nagging adductor strain — crushed the eighth grand slam of his career in the ninth inning at Baltimore. It wasn’t enough to rally from an eight-run deficit, but it was enough to remind us what his presence means to the lineup. Now the rest of the lineup needs to follow his lead.

“When everyone gets hot at the same time, it’s going to be a beautiful thing,” said manager Alex Cora after the game.

The May schedule should be kinder to this team. Monday was the first of three off-days in a 10-day span. The Sox play 13 of the next 18 games and 20 of the next 28 at Fenway Park. Settling in at home might be just what the offense needs to settle into a groove.

First, they need to put April behind them. May entered the chat on Sunday with Boston’s ugly loss in Baltimore, the Celtics getting pounded in Game 1 against the defending NBA champs and snickering around the NFL in regard to the Patriots’ performance in the draft.

Let’s hope there are kinder, gentler May days ahead. And that the cruelty of April is over.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN.


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