When you are going as well as the Red Sox have been for a solid two months, even the negative nights can be encouraging.
Boston dropped a 6-2 decision in Baltimore on Tuesday night, but there was nothing about the game that was cause for concern. The Sox have still won 13 of 16, they are still in first place and they can take comfort in a handful of positives.
For one, rookie Kyle Weiland gave the club plenty about which it can be proud. Coming off a major league debut against these very same Orioles in which he was hit hard early and later ejected, Weiland produced a quality start in his first road game as a big leaguer.
"The other day was kind of a weird start anyway. First major league start and all the extracurriculars that were going on, but … I thought he represented himself well," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona of Weiland.
Weiland overcame a few early struggles to finish strong. He allowed just one hit in his final three innings, all scoreless, and turned the game over to the bullpen with the Sox trailing just 3-2. Although the Orioles aren't world-beaters, they boast a lineup loaded with guys who can hurt you if you make a mistake.
For the most part, Weiland did not.
"This outing was a lot different than the last one," he said. "I had a different repertoire. I wasn't pulling the fastball like I did the last time out. So I was able to get ahead of a few more guys, which played to my advantage."
As for the rest of the losing effort, it's simply difficult to find fault anywhere. Boston, who has the best offense in baseball, simply ran into a quality veteran on a good night. Give credit where credit is due to Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed two runs (both on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia homer in the fifth) in seven superb innings.
That's all the Sox did after the game.
"He located. He was on the corners. He threw his curveball for strikes early in the count. He pitched great," said Dustin Pedroia, who had one of the eight hits off Guthrie. "Sometimes you've got to tip your hat. He was great tonight."
The Red Sox had three more hits from red-hot youngster Josh Reddick, another positive. Adrian Gonzalez had another 0-fer, but there isn't a soul alive that figures his little slump will continue. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.
Oh, you want to get on Alfredo Aceves for throwing a pair of gopher balls in the eighth, turning a one-run game into a four-run game? He had thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings before the back-to-back blasts. Nobody, certainly not Francona, should shy away from turning to Aceves in a pinch. Just one of those nights for one of the best arms in the bullpen. Hey, it happens. Nothing to lose sleep over.
Oh yeah, sleep.
The Red Sox, who received almost none of it after the 16-inning game at Tampa Bay on Sunday and a predawn flight to Baltimore before the series opener, should at least be pleased with the speed of Tuesday night's affair.
Because of the work of Weiland and Guthrie and some pretty crisp defense on both sides, the contest finished in two hours, 37 minutes. Only five games for the Red Sox have been faster all season. With a 12:35 p.m. start Wednesday, that is a most welcome development for a weary bunch on the tail end of a road trip.
Despite a rare loss to a team they usually dominate, the Sox will hit the pillow early. Because of the nature of the loss, they should have no issues getting a good night's sleep.