Well, it happened. The Red Sox lost to the Braves.
If there was a game they were going to lose in this four-game home-and-home set, this was certainly the one. Between a resurgent Rick Porcello, David Price, and the surprising Steven Wright, there were three games the Red Sox should have been fairly confident in taking.
Then there was this game. Clay Buchholz vs. Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin has started the season looking like a bit of a monster. Clay Buchholz looks like Clay Buchholz when he misses the second half of the season before.
(Bad. He's looked bad if that wasn't clear.)
And, well, it played out the way you might expect. The Red Sox did get their customary first-inning run despite some serious weirdness when Xander Bogaerts was called safe on a neighborhood play at second, thought he was out, and quickly put truth to that by heading for the dugout and getting tagged. Hanley Ramirez managed to drive in Dustin Pedroia all-the-same, but one wonders how much bigger that inning could've been.
And then Buchholz took the mound, and...yeah. He got out of the first without damage, but it became clear this would be a dangerous night when the last out (after a leadoff double) came when Buchholz missed on a fastball to A.J. Pierzynski, giving him a pitch to crush. That he did not didn't change the fact that Buchholz had offered it, and when he did more of that in the second, he was punished in a big way. The setup was not loud--a one-out walk and bunt hit--but Mallex Smith and Nick Markakis tagged a couple balls to drive in three runs.
The Sox did manage to get one back in the bottom of the third on doubles from Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez, but after surviving hard contact in the third, Buchholz couldn't survive a leadoff walk in the fourth, eventually allowing Erick Aybar to come in to score a fourth Atlanta run. They'd add a fifth run in the sixth, and while Buchholz would pitch into the seventh, getting deep in a game isn't terribly helpful when the innings you offer are bad.
If there's one thing that's really disappointing about this game, it's that the Red Sox never cashed in on any of their chances against the Braves' bullpen when Atlanta almost seemed to be trying to throw the game. They let Chris Young face a lefty, and he crushed a wall ball double, but was stranded by Jackie Bradley Jr. Then they brought in Alexi Ogando, leading to a second-and-third, one-out situation. But Xander Bogaerts went down swinging and David Ortiz grounded out weakly. Ironically, it was only once the disgusting Arodys Vizcaino entered the game that the Sox managed to push a run across, but Xander Bogaerts grounded out, and the game was over.
So the Red Sox won't have their first sweep of the season just yet. Even against the Braves it's hard to take all four. It's not the end of the world, but at the very least, it should be enough at this point to get the Red Sox thinking about their rotation, and how they're going to fill that fifth spot in the long run. Because even if you feel you can count on Price, Rodriguez, Porcello, and Wright--and I'm sure that not everyone will agree on that--the likes of Buchholz? Kelly? Not so much.