Another day, another complete disaster for Boston's rotation.
Clay Buchholz had had three good performances and one bad one. We were one more good outing away from passing off that train wreck against New York as an outlier. The Red Sox spotted him a 4-0 lead headed into the third, an inning which he entered with nothing but momentum behind him after a pair of fairly easy innings.
He never made the fourth. Buchholz started the inning with a walk, then got smacked around the park for four runs before he recorded the second out, and a fifth shortly after he did. The lead was gone, Buchholz was out of the game, and the Red Sox were damn near beaten.
They didn't end up being completely out of it. They may have even won had a bases-loaded, zero-out situation in the fifth turned into more than one run.
But let's imagine the Red Sox had won tonight. Let's imagine the bullpen, worn thin as is, had not given up another six runs before the night was over. How much difference does that make? The offense has finally started producing--actually producing. They're not just scoring runs courtesy of the other team playing little league defense. They're hitting the ball with authority, and looking like the lineup that was promised.
And they're still losing games like this one and Sunday night's because the rotation can't hold a four-run lead for a single inning. They're counting for huge swathe's of the league's worst pitching performances. We're not taking about rough outings, we're talking about starts which end the game before the fifth and leave the bullpen in terrible condition for games to come.
Right now, for tomorrow's game, the Red Sox are in desperate need of bullpen help, but there's no room on the roster. That means the Sox are either going to be hoping for eight innings from Rick Porcello tomorrow, or they'll be making a roster move before game time. Maybe that means a reliever hits the disabled list. Probably, in fact. But don't be surprised if that roster spot ends up in the hands of a starting pitcher by the time the rotation rolls over again. Maybe it won't be Buchholz who gets taken out--God knows one more disaster from Wade Miley would see him shelved first--but the Red Sox can't just keep on whistling away as the calendar turns to May. They won't be cutting anyone just yet, but a phantom DL trip just to see if maybe someone like Brian Johnson can produce as few as three respectable starts in a row?
What do they have to lose? It's certainly hard to imagine it getting any worse.