Clay Buchholz pitched. The Red Sox lost. What else is new?
It was another Buchholz beginning to another Buchholz start today. Three runs before the first inning was out. There's something to be said for it being a ground ball party that only gave him a double play when the damage was already done...but this sort of disaster first is all-too-typical of a Buchholz game to simply chalk it up to luck.
Also entirely typical is Buchholz finding his stride after that point and turning in four straight shutout innings to perhaps convince the Red Sox to give him another game to squander. Of course, he walked more batters than he struck out in doing so, but it still might have left him with an outing approaching decent at least in terms of results. The Sox even gave him a run back in the sixth when Bryce Brentz showed off what he most certainly does have in terms of tools, launching his first major league homer to bring the Sox within two. It was still very much a game.
But if there's one thing that will shake a Boston pitcher on a roll, it's apparently scoring runs for them. Following in the tried-and-true Red Sox tradition of immediately repaying runs gained with runs allowed, Buchholz promptly surrendered a two-run shot to Prince Fielder in the bottom of the sixth. In fairness to Buchholz, the only reason it went for two was because of a Xander Bogaerts error that cost Buchholz the first out of the sixth. In fairness to all of us, there is no benefit of any doubt left for Buchholz, and when you're in a position where your best excuse is "well he could've been out of the game with five runs and three earned," it's pretty clear how far gone the situation already is.
It's worth acknowledging that the Red Sox still didn't back Buchholz up with any real level of offense. Yes, they were left in a significant early hole, but this is not a team that is timid about erasing big leads. Thanks to a pinch-hit RBI single from David Ortiz in the eighth, it would have at least been enough for Steven Wright this past Monday, but that's asking too much out of even a good pitcher, much less what the Red Sox are trotting out half the time.
Wherever the lion's share of the blame lies, though, there's certainly enough for Buchholz to make it stunning that this team is still starting him on June 26th. That there's no real better alternative in the organization doesn't even really forgive it anymore. At this point, the Red Sox are just throwing away games. They have to know they need to make some trades if this team is going to stay in the postseason race. Every turn through the rotation where Buchholz pitches instead of even just some mediocre number five type picked up for dimes on the nickle, every game where Ryan LaMarre is in the lineup is one they might find themselves sorely wishing they hadn't wasted come September when they're fighting for positioning in the East or the Wild Card race.
Or at least we hope they are. With two series wins in their last nine tries, that's starting to seem a lot less certain.