It was just Saturday that the Red Sox were riding high. They'd locked in a series win against the Blue Jays, were going for the sweep on Sunday, and had David Price lined up for the home opener on Monday. If all was not right, it was at least pretty damn good.
Now they've lost three straight, and sit at 3-4 on the season. The offense was shut down on Sunday, Price and Kimbrel collapsed on Monday, and on Tuesday Clay Buchholz gave Red Sox fans no reason to believe that 2016 would be any different from his other years attempting to come back from injury. Throw in a putrid seventh inning from Robbie Ross, and it's a 9-5 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.
For the second straight game, the Red Sox gave their fans some early hope. On the night the team handed out necklaces commemorating David Ortiz' 500th homer, Big Papi came through with his 506th bomb in the first inning, driving in Dustin Pedroia to put Boston ahead 2-0. Clay Buchholz, for his part, pitched through a few scoreless innings, and while he may have been living a bit dangerously...well, beggars and choosers.
That adage kind of went out the window, though, by the end of Buchholz' outing. To be fair to him, there were mitigating circumstances. The first damage dealt to him was on the most Fenway Park of all homers--a short shot from J.J. Hardy that wrapped itself around Pesky's Pole and plated two, tying the game in the fourth. Then, after the Sox got him the lead back in the fifth, Buchholz had a pop foul to the right of home plate off the bat of Mark Trumbo fall behind Blake Swihart, who has been having more than his fair share of difficulties catching those of late.
There'll be a lot of attention paid to that missed out given that Trumbo proceeded to hit a fat fastball through the wind that had been killing everything to left field and off the top of a billboard on the Monster to tie it up again. But Swihart wasn't the one who threw that awful fastball, or the one who proceeded to walk Matt Wieters and give up a double to Pedro Alvarez before leaving the game without an out in the sixth. That was Clay Buchholz, who is doing the same thing he does every time he tries to come back from an injury year.
The middle portions of the bullpen would give way to make this one something of a laugher before all was said and done, with Robbie Ross Jr. being called on for a big at bat against Chris Davis, delivering with a strikeout, and then giving up a double, a single, and finally a two-run homer to--again--J.J. Hardy in the inning that really sealed the deal. But by then the trauma had set in. The reality that it would be yet another year of this from Clay Buchholz. 2012, 2014, 2016.
Good teams going 0-3 is not all that uncommon, and the fact is that the Red Sox are still scoring a lot of runs, and this rotation was always going to be a work-in-progress for at least a month or two to start the season. But it's hard to stay collected when we find ourselves right back at a losing record, particularly with the morale hit that David Price start did. This is all too horribly familiar in the aftermath of '15, with the one big difference being that this time there's a big offense around to make it feel like the Red Sox are wasting a good thing. That makes them more likely to recover, but a lot harder to stomach right now.
Oh, and we get Joe Kelly tomorrow. So that's just fantastic.