Mark Melancon Struggles in Blowout Loss, Stint in Pawtucket Could Be in Store

Mark Melancon Struggles in Blowout Loss, Stint in Pawtucket Could Be in StoreBOSTON — Nothing went right for Mark Melancon.

As the Red Sox reliever took the mound in the top of the eighth on Tuesday night, he was supposed to steady the ship from the Rangers' offensive barrage. Instead, the 27-year-old simply extended the misery in the 18-3 loss.

In a span of 26 pitches, Melancon surrendered three homers — to Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz — to yield five long balls for the 2012 season, tying the total amount he allowed with Houston in 2011.

To place the deed in perspective, Melancon tossed 74 1/3 innings with the Astros before giving up five homers. With Boston, he matched the mark in only two innings. In the process, he elevated his ERA to 49.50.

Now, Melancon's lackluster stretch begs the question –– Should the Red Sox send him to Triple-A to correct the kinks? Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine is certainly evaluating his options.

"At this time, you have to consider everything," Valentine said when asked if a minor league stint for Melancon is necessary.

As a whole, Melancon's outing was forgettable, considering he allowed each of the six batters he faced to reach base. That's not to mention the six runs he surrendered before exiting to a smattering of boos.

The fact that he worked with pitching coach Bob McClure before the game — and said he felt good about the session — was slightly more troubling. When broached about the subject of time in Pawtucket, Melancon didn't flinch.

"I don't know how to answer that," Melancon said. "I'm going to continue to work hard no matter where I'm at and get through it. I feel like something’s going to click. Mentally I feel good, physically I feel good. It's close."

From a catcher's point of view, Jarrod Saltalmacchia noted that Melancon was misfiring with his curveball. Melancon, meanwhile, raised the possibility that he's either opening up too wide or showing the baseball too early.

Whatever the issue, Valentine doesn't like what he sees.

"He's really concerned, I’m very concerned, obviously," Valentine said. "He's not getting the swing and miss. It seems like he's a little — he's searching right now, and so are we. It's tough when you don't pitch on a regular basis, and I was hoping the two innings tonight could maybe straighten him out."

Since the scheduled two innings occurred in the midst of blowout — at that point the Rangers were leading 7-2 — the next logical step is Pawtucket. It would offer the former Astros closer an opportunity to recapture his form.

Melancon has squandered his only two outings in crunch time against Detroit, causing him to fall out of favor with Valentine. In blowouts against the Rays and Rangers, the struggles have simply snowballed.

But Melancon believes there's light at the end of the tunnel.

"I feel it's just something small that's going to click here sooner or later," Melancon said. "Once we get that, I feel like it'll click."

Whether in Pawtucket or Boston, he'll hope to correct it quickly.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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