In real estate it’s location, location, location. In baseball it’s pitching, pitching, pitching and right now the Red Sox are slumming it in the low rent district.
Injury and flat out poor performance have the Sox in a 5-8 skid over the last two weeks. All this has happened in a hurry as has left them licking their wounds in preparation for a quick two-game series against the Rockies and a key three-game series against a red hot Blue Jays team (11 straight wins).
Boston’s only bona fide quality starter, Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched since leaving in the middle of what would turn out to be a 7-2 win against the Angels on June 8. His scheduled return on Tuesday is in jeopardy after he missed a scheduled bullpen session this weekend. Regrettably, it’s always the same story with Buchholz. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best. He just can’t stay healthy.
After a smokin’ start in April, Boston’s starting pitching now ranks a pedestrian 15th in the league with a 3.70 and growing ERA. In the last 30 days both Ryan Dempster and Jon Lester have lost three times and Andrew Bailey has blown three save and lost his job.
The bullpen has also had their share of let downs. Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Alex Wilson all have losses, indicative of a relief corp that can’t hold a lead. Against some of their more likely postseason foes – the Orioles (2-5), the Tigers (1-3), and the Rangers (2-4) – they’re simply not matching up well.
As reported by the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, “General manager Ben Cherington indicated that if he felt the team needed some pitching solutions he would have to entertain a trade with some of his redundant prospects. That time may be coming sooner rather than later.”
Boston’s woes were never more evident than in the 7-5 loss Sunday against the Tigers. Farrell brought in Bailey, who’d just lost his closer job to Koji Uehara, in the seventh. Bailey faced three batters and gave up two hits. He was replaced by Andrew Miller who gave up a two-run single and hit a batter.
The next inning after a crucial call against Daniel Nava Bryan Holaday laid down a sac bunt, which Miller fielded and threw wide to draw Pedroia off first base. A sac fly and two-run single later off Craig Breslow and Boston’s latest pitching collapse was complete.
While Allen Webster is till drawing critical acclaim, he’s 0-2. Working out your stuff in the what is becoming an increasingly intense pennant race may not be the best way to break in young talent.
I’m not ready to press the panic button just yet but as the season turns the corner for the All-Star break it’s clear that the Sox have flaws, primary of which is their pitching and something needs to change.