Red Sox Starting Staff Needs to End Trend of Early Flameouts, Ease Pressure on Bullpen

Red Sox Starting Staff Needs to End Trend of Early Flameouts, Ease Pressure on Bullpen

Editor’s note: NESN.com is going to tell the
story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will
select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

The road trip was already a nightmare. But now, it’s downright ugly.

Just days after
a dazzling start against the Royals, Daisuke Matsuzaka became the fourth
pitcher in the last five games that failed to advance into the fourth inning. The right-hander’s short night ensured that Boston was swept for the second consecutive series.

And Matsuzaka’s
troubles continued to burden the team’s bullpen in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the
Athletics. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow, Junichi
Tazawa
and Mark Melancon pitched scoreless innings to minimize the damage.

Still, despite
the bullpen’s resiliency, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is tired of his
starting staff’s downward trend. It’s wearing down his relievers, which could prompt more call-ups from Triple-A.

“They’re up
in the fourth inning now for a week,” Valentine told reporters in Oakland of
the bullpen. “We’ve got to stop that. We’re tired of it, and we’ve got to
stop that.”

Like the first
two games of the series, the Athletics punished the Red Sox via the long ball , hitting two of them against Matsuzaka. After allowing six runs through 3 2/3 innings,
Matsuzaka was yanked without throwing a single scoreless frame.

Red Sox Starting Staff Needs to End Trend of Early Flameouts, Ease Pressure on BullpenThrough the six
losses on the West Coast swing, both the hitting and pitching for Boston has
gone awry. The offense has combined to tally a .231 average with just 15 runs
and three home runs.

Meanwhile, the
Red Sox pitchers have amassed a 9.80 ERA. Over the past five games, only Jon
Lester
managed to cross the four-inning plateau, but wound up receiving a loss
in a complete-game effort.

“We’re not playing good baseball by any means,” Red
Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia told reporters. “We’re really not doing
anything well.”

The losses of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks have been truly visible in this stretch. Before the game, Valentine attempted to get
creative with the lineup, moving Pedro Ciriaco to left field and Mauro Gomez to
third base.

But it was to no avail. Even Valentine acknowledged the depleted
lineup had become an Achilles’ heel.

“We don’t have the firepower to come back,” Valentine
said.

That goes for the pitching staff as well.
Against the Athletics, Matsuzaka, Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront combined to
surrender 17 earned runs and four home runs.

Yardbarker

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