Red Sox fall 5-2 as bullpen implodes


The Red Sox add one more crushing loss to the ledger, slipping to 1-8 in their last nine games after a late rally by the Braves. The Boston bullpen, a unit that has increasingly been showing its shortcomings of late, was the culprit in this game as the Red Sox lost 5-2 due to poor performances by relievers Junichi Tazawa, Tommy Layne, and Craig Breslow.

This game actually started out as a pitchers’ duel, with Braves’ lefty Alex Wood matching Boston’s Joe Kelly pitch for pitch through the first three innings. The Red Sox actually drew first blood in the fourth inning, with the Red Sox catching some rare breaks along the way. Hanley Ramirez started the inning with a single into left field, but though Pablo Sandoval‘s grounder appeared destined to be a double play off the bat, it took an unusual skip off the lip of the grass and evaded third baseman Juan Uribe. Two outs and a walk later, the Red Sox had the bases loaded with two outs, but via National League rules, Joe Kelly was at the plate. Still, Kelly was able to work the count full before hitting a grounder to the right of the second baseman, who took his time fielding it and actually allowed Kelly to hustle into first safely for an RBI single.

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Despite Kelly’s offensive efforts, though, he was unable to give the Red Sox a shutdown inning on the mound. With two outs and Uribe on second, former Red Sox infielder Pedro Ciriaco hit a soft line drive to the right and behind second baseman Dustin Pedroia. It was a single all the way, but the ball scooted off Pedroia as he slid to field it, which allowed Uribe to score and Ciriaco to move to second, tying the game at 1-1.

The Red Sox bats, or at least one of them, returned in the sixth inning as Mike Napoli lifted a no-doubt home run to left-center field, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. However, much like Boston’s previous lead, it would prove to be short-lived.

Kelly started the sixth inning on the mound, but he was lifted in favor of Robbie Ross Jr. after allowing the first two batters to reach base. Ross was able to induce a couple of quick outs, but with two outs and two on, he was removed for Alexi Ogando. Ogando was not quite so lucky as Ciriaco once again provided a boost for the Braves offense, singling to left to tie the game at 2-2.

The Red Sox went to the back end of their bullpen to start the seventh, placing setup man Junichi Tazawa in the game. Unfortunately, Tazawa was not up to the task, though. After a flyout to start the inning, Tazawa allowed three consecutive singles to Cameron Maybin, Daniel Castro (his first MLB hit), and Nick Markakis to give the Braves their first lead of the game. After a walk and a forceout, John Farrell opted to remove Tazawa and bring Tommy Layne into the game to face left-handed hitter A.J. Pierzynski. However, that plan would backfire as Layne walked Pierzynski, forcing a run across the plate. The Red Sox would escape that inning after allowing the two runs, but the Braves picked up one more in the eighth on an RBI single off the bat of Maybin.

The Red Sox were unable to produce more than their requisite two runs, and the Red Sox fall again for the eighth time in nine games. This season is quickly turning from bad to embarrassing but the Red Sox will have a chance to tie this series tonight as they send Clay Buchholz (3-6, 4.22 ERA) to the mound against Atlanta revelation Shelby Miller (5-2, 2.02 ERA).

Game Notes:

  • Mike Napoli looked like his old self last night, going 1-3 with a long home run and a walk. However, he has been anything but his old self thus far in 2015, slashing .204/.299/.393 with 10 home runs. Perhaps this game can spur a hot streak for Napoli?
  • Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt each went 2-4, extending their current hot streaks at the plate.
  • Joe Kelly was not bad by any means, but in typical fashion, he was extremely inefficient as he threw 103 pitches in just 5+ innings. This is one of the most obvious reasons that Kelly might be suited for the bullpen in the long run.

Joe Kelly. STARTING PITCHING . C. . Game Ball

Kelly was not terrible last night, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 5+ innings. However, his inability to pitch beyond the fifth inning is becoming a real problem for the Red Sox.

B+. . Game Ball. Robbie Ross. RELIEF PITCHING

Ross only faced two batters last night, but he recorded a pair of outs, including a strikeout in that span of time.

B. . Game Ball. Mike Napoli. OFFENSE

Napoli had a solid game offensively, going 1-3 with a home run and a walk. However, as has typically been the case this year for the Red Sox, even the best offensive performer on any given day has hardly had an incredible game.