Well, that went about as poorly as it possibly could have. Clay Buchholz was a joke, the Red Sox scored two runs, and Jackie Bradley Jr.'s hitting streak ended.
Let's talk not about the blow-by-blow of the game, but the takeaways and, hopefully, the consequences.
The big one is obvious here: this has to be it for Clay Buchholz. It just has to. He was cruising through three innings, then gave up three two-run homers between the fourth and fifth. The second a batter reached, it was total disaster. If ever there was a game to give ammunition to the armchair psychiatrists of the world, this one would be it.
Whether you give credit to the 'headcase' idea or not, though, I think we can all get behind this one simple idea: Buchholz must go. It's been a tumultuous decade he's had with the Red Sox. Plenty of highs, just as many lows. But at the end of the day, he's the one obvious thing that just keeps getting in the way of a team that is otherwise firing on all cylinders. I can't even really blame the lineup for their output tonight. They got ahead early, and then saw the lead vanish, and in the blink of an eye were down by five. Yeah, they should've scored some more. Almost did in the fourth. But you can't always expect them to be up to the task of bailing out Buchholz from another huge deficit, especially when it's the same old demoralizing story.
And it's not like the Red Sox don't have options. Eduardo Rodriguez is nearly ready. They might choose to give him one more start in Triple-A (though there was talk that said decision would depend on Buchholz' start), but even if they do, they're better off letting Roenis Elias try to ride his sudden hot streak into Boston than to continue with the insanity of expecting Buchholz to be better the next time out.
So that's Buchholz. And hopefully the end of Buchholz. Let's briefly discuss Jackie Bradley Jr., because there's something I would like to cut off at the pass were it not already too late to do so.
John Farrell moved Bradley up to the leadoff spot today for the first time. And on this same day, his hitting streak ended.
Correlation, however, does not imply causation. And oh, but there's so many reasons anyone trying to connect the two will face a tough challenge.
First of all, as mentioned by Tim Britton, Bradley had already moved through five different spots in the lineup during his streak before finally taking on leadoff duties tonight. None of those stopped him.
Second of all, Bradley is not at all new to the leadoff spot. It's where he's been throughout much of his minor league career. He's hit first often before, and if there's a change to his mindset based on it, then it's not one that has ever hurt him in the past.
Third of all, Bradley was really good tonight! No, it's not going to show up in the boxscore, but he missed two homers by all of about 10 total feet! His first at bat sent Carlos Gonzalez to the warning track up against the bullpen wall, and in the fifth Blackmon had to do the same in center! If Bradley had hit those balls to slightly shallower parts of Fenway, if the wind had been blowing out, if the weather had been one degree warmer, we would be talking about one of Bradley's best games of the season, and 30 games on the hitting streak.
Instead, we're talking about the end of it. Not because of John Farrell making what was a pretty damn good decision to put one of his best hitters first, but because the wind did not blow, and hitting streaks are difficult to maintain for 30 games.
So that's that. The hitting streak is dead, the sweep didn't happen. This game was a complete and total loss, at least as far as events restricted to tonight are concerned. We can only hope it has the long-term positive effect of freeing us from the burden of watching Clay Buchholz throw every fifth game in the gutter.