The Red Sox rehashed an old favorite for Monday's series opener against the White Sox: a toothless offensive performance against a pitcher with an ERA over 4.50, leaving a four-run Chicago attack looking like an unapproachable juggernaut.
At no point did this game look like it held anything positive for Boston's lineup. While Scott Carroll was coming fresh off a seven-run outing against the Angels, he was basically On no-hit watch Monday night in Fenway Park. While A.J. Pierzynski would manage a base knock as early as the third, they wouldn't manage another baserunner until the sixth, and their second hit of the day would take until the eighth.
While 22 runs in four games is not exactly a noteworthy feat, for the Red Sox it represented quite the uptick. A brief period where every game did not bring with it a guarantee of frustrating offensive utility. But this was a pretty textbook example of the Red Sox offense we've seen so often over the past month-plus. It really has gotten to the point where the quality (or lack thereof) of the opposing arm is largely unimportant in the face of the Red Sox' inability to hit the ball with any authority.
Still, for nearly four innings, this at least looked like a decent outing for Clay Buchholz. He allowed a second-inning homer to Adam Dunn, but little else until he had two outs in the fourth. That third out, though, just wouldn't come. After three straight balls to start Buchholz' second battle with Dunn, he got the customary 3-0 called strike, followed by the not-so-customary Dunn double. Going from "1-2-3 inning" to "total disaster" in five seconds flat, Buchholz proceeded to walk Alexei Ramirez on four straight pitches. He did manage to get Dayan Viciedo into an 0-2 hole, but followed up with three straight balls, and finally just threw him a fat pitch over the middle. Viciedo did not miss the opportunity, taking the ball past the triangle and into the stands, leaving the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole.
That's a small difference between a good outing and a bad outing for Buchholz, who needed just one more out--one more strike!--to get out of the fourth.
It's not, however, a small difference between the two teams. Four runs may not seem as huge as all that, but on nights like tonight when the Red Sox just plain can't hit, even a two-run lead can feel like a blowout. Four? Call it a night.