WASHINGTON — It’s one thing to have high expectations and disappoint.
It’s another to recall the .500 season of just one year ago that was viewed as one of the most disappointing in franchise history — only to be followed by a year so bad that .500 looked downright glorious.
So it is with the Sox, who need to win five of their last nine games to avoid a fifth 100-loss season in franchise history after enduring a 13-3 drubbing from the Nationals on Wednesday.
It’s late September, and the Sox, who fell to 58-95 going into an off day Thursday, haven’t won a series since Aug. 7-9 against the Yankees.
The Sox have three games against the Red Sox this weekend at Fenway Park before closing a mostly disastrous season at home against the Diamondbacks and Padres next week.
This latest Sox loss began with a so-so first inning from opener Michael Kopech, who is grasping at straws trying to find something positive to take into the offseason after a disappointing season that has him carrying a 5.43 ERA.
Kopech could have escaped trouble after allowing a triple to CJ Abrams on his first pitch and hitting Lane Thomas with his third. But Tim Anderson botched a rundown play, mishandling a throw from catcher Carlos Perez and allowing Abrams to score.
Third baseman Yoan Moncada, the Sox’ best defensive infielder, backed up on a ground ball and was charged with an error in a three-run Nationals second inning. It was that kind of start on just another bad day for a team staring at that notorious, preposterous number 100.
“We made a couple errors that were costly,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “Other than that, we didn’t pitch very well and we didn’t hit.
“There’s not a lot to talk about this game.”
Grifol, often talkative after losses, clearly had little interest talking about this one. A 6-1 win in the series opener behind Mike Clevinger’s complete game positioned the Sox to win a series against a beatable team. The Nationals came from behind to win the second game 4-3.
A bullpen game started by Kopech in the rubber game wasn’t exactly the ticket to punch for a series win.
“Obviously it would be nice to put the team in position to win and have us take a series,” a dejected Kopech said afterward, “but it’s not where I’m at right now with what’s going on.”
What’s going on with the Sox is a path to possibly their sixth-worst season, winning-percentage wise, in franchise history.
Their 58-95 record, at a season-low 37 games below .500, has them at a .379 winning percentage.
The only teams worse in Sox history are from 1932 (49-102, .325), 1948 (51-101, .336), 1970 (56-106, .346), 1934 (53-99, .349), 1931 (56-97, .366) and 1929 (59-93, .366).
The last Sox team to lose 100 was in 2018, when they were swept by the Twins in Minnesota in a four-game series to finish the season at 62-100 under manager Rick Renteria.
Only thing is, they were rebuilding that year.
These 2023 Sox were thought to be built to win. But they started 7-21 and by the trade deadline were holding a selloff.
They find themselves having lost nine of the last 12, 14 of 19, 26 of 37 and 38 of 54.
“We have to pitch better and hit better [next season],” Grifol said. “And we have to play defense.
“We just didn’t get it done.”