Shockingly, with Clay Buchholz on the mound and a lineup generated seemingly by choosing names out of a hat, the Red Sox dropped their sixth straight game, falling to a season-high (low?) five games below .500.
You could say that the game was over when lineups were released, but that would be to ignore that we knew Clay Buchholz would start long before today. And with Clay Buchholz in 2014, there's one guarantee: some awful, awful pitching. Tonight was no exception. Even before he allowed a run, Buchholz was getting crushed in the first inning, allowing hard hit ball after hard hit ball. So when the second inning brought with it not only an Edwin Encarnacion homer, but two more walks and singles to score a second run, the only surprise was that Jose Bautista grounded out to end the inning rather than blowing the game wide open.
Then the third inning came, Edwin Encarnacion went deep again--this time after an Adam Lind triple,of all things--and we were in full-on circus mode.
Somehow, the lineup that scored all of four runs was a bright spot tonight. Or at least it provided a few. Shane Victorino uncorked a solo shot in the fourth to account for one of Boston's runs, and Xander Bogaerts hit the ball very hard all night in picking up three hits of his own. Even A.J. Pierzynski had his stopped clock day with three singles. Unfortunately, all of Boston's offense came from well behind thanks to Buchholz early implosion, leaving it feeling low-impact up until the end of the eighth, when the Red Sox finally pulled within a pair of runs. That, however, fed into a ninth which featured only an infield single from Pierzynski, making this feel like much more of a blowout then it actually was.
The sad thing is that this is kind of the best we could have hoped for. Buchholz was awful without giving up as many runs as he probably should have, and a truly tragic Red Sox batting order actually managed to look halfway competent. Even if some of the worst offenses--Sizemore leadoff, Gomes cleanup against a righty--proved every bit as ill-advised as they appeared to be. It's sad to say that a 6-4 loss is somehow blessedly mediocre, but it really could have been that much worse.
The hope is that this game will be the one to force some changes. Clay Buchholz was just as bad as usual, and his continued presence in the rotation clearly benefits nobody save the opposing team. Grady Sizemore's return to the leadoff spot netted all of one trip to the basepaths and one big strikeout with the bases loaded. It's time for both of these players to get off the active roster, with Buchholz in need of a trip to the disabled list (phantom or not) and Sizemore in need of a trip to free agency. Perhaps we can even hope that John Farrell will stop pretending Jonny Gomes is anything but an entertaining lefty-masher.
But probably not.