Welcome, one-and-all, to the wrong side of .500. That's where the Red Sox find themselves after another bad start from Joe Kelly led to an 8-5 defeat Sunday night in Fenway Park, completing a three-game sweep at the hands of New York.
This was Joe Kelly at his level worst. The worst we've seen him this season, in fact. His last two starts had been troubling, yes, but he had been cruising against Tampa Bay before the wheels fell off in the sixth, and against Toronto it was at least a more slow-and-steady bleed that let him last through six. Mixed into both games: plenty of nasty stuff from the right-hander, who struck out 17 over those 11 innings.
Tonight Joe Kelly threw that ball hard, and that's all that you can say in his favor. Even that, really, might not be a positive. He threw the ball hard, but not where he wanted it. Not where Blake Swihart wanted it. He threw it hard where the Yankees could either lay off or hit it back all the harder for it having come in at 97. But really the problem was that his command didn't get any better when he threw it soft, and New York was prepared. Mark Teixeira punished just such a slider for a two-run bomb in the first. Carlos Beltran (whose career has seemingly been given new life by this trip to Boston alone) a changeup for an RBI double to cap off a three-run third.
For Boston's other starters, it's been a mixed bag. Good start, bad start, good start, good start, bad start. Not ideal, but not so bad as the negative trend that's so easy to draw for ol' Joe Kelly. He's been pretty miserable ever since that sixth inning against the Rays. 14 runs in 10 innings miserable. It's not just a bad game with him now, it's bad weeks. And getting worse.
To make it worse, this was a game the Red Sox could have won. A game the Red Sox came awfully close to winning. They scored five runs in a big sixth inning to take a game that seemed mostly out of hand (courtesy another three runs from Craig Breslow, who did not record so much as an out) and put some life back into it. They loaded the bases against Andrew Miller in the ninth inning to bring David Ortiz to the plate as the winning run. Ortiz even produced a line drive despite the lefty-on-lefty matchup.
But the line drive ended up in Jacoby Ellsbury's glove, and the Red Sox lost. They lost a game that could have been won with decent pitch. I'd say news at 10, but it's currently past midnight.
If it's not one thing with the Red Sox, it's another. When they tighten up on the mound, the lineup scores two runs. When they manage to put together a big rally, it's either well after the pitchers have given the game away, or just before they give it right back.
The Red Sox are a losing team right now. And until they find the right 25 men for their Major League roster, it's hard to expect them to do much better for an extended period of time.