The Boston Red Sox saw perhaps their worst overall pitching performance of the season Wednesday night, and now their rotation could be even more strained than it has been all year.
Starter Joe Kelly gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, but the bullpen didn’t help much, allowing a collective six runs of its own in the 13-9 loss. However, the Red Sox in effect put a strain on their pitching staff by optioning Kelly to Pawtucket after the game.
“When he came back (from the disabled list), he didn’t look like he was overthrowing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game, per MassLive’s Jen McCaffrey. “He was staying in his delivery well. There was a consistent effort and energy within it that allowed him to command the fastball. That has not been the case these last two times out.
“That’s an area that has been kind of the nemesis of Joe. Blessed with a golden arm and tremendous stuff, but the execution of it has not been as consistent in those games than what he showed previously.”
Now the Red Sox are stuck with four starters after moving Clay Buchholz to the bullpen. They can get away with it until June 18 — three coincidental off-days in the schedule would give all four men five days’ rest — but after that, they’ll need someone to fill in. And, as it doesn’t appear Buchholz or Kelly magically will be capable by then, the Red Sox might have to get creative.
Farrell said on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday that the Red Sox would be willing to pitch Steven Wright on shorter rest, as knuckleballers don’t strain themselves as much as their harder-throwing teammates. The Red Sox also have used bullpen days in the past, but they might not be willing to tax their relievers so early in the season. However, it very much could be feasible, as long reliever Heath Hembree would be eligible for a call-up by then, and Buchholz can eat innings, too.
Either way, this certainly isn’t a situation the Red Sox wanted to find themselves in. It’s not a cause for panic, as the club still has a two-game lead over the O’s for first place in the American League East and there’s a lot of season left to bounce back, but it is a cause for concern in the short term.
Here are some more notes from Wednesday’s loss.
— Sometimes you have to see the glass as half-full, and the Red Sox’s offense let fans do that Wednesday.
Mookie Betts became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit home runs in the first and second innings in two consecutive games. He also tied the MLB record for most home runs in a two-game span with five, a record held by two other Red Sox in Carl Yastrzemski and Nomar Garciaparra.
And despite the fact he already has 14 homers on the season, just one shy of David Ortiz for the team lead, Betts doesn’t see himself as a power hitter.
“They’re just going over the fence right now,” Betts said, per McCaffrey. “I see myself as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter.”
— Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 25 games with a bloop single in the sixth inning.
— Chris Young also had a multi-homer game with a two-run shot in the second and a solo shot in the eighth. The Red Sox outfielder, who has been known to mash against lefties, ironically has hit his three home runs this season off only right-handers.
— Buchholz didn’t necessarily look as bad as his four runs (three earned) and four walks over three innings suggested. A rare Dustin Pedroia error that should have been a double play in the sixth inning let the go-ahead run cross the plate. Buchholz got burned again in the seventh when the home plate umpire, who made some iffy calls in the game, called a 2-2 inside strike to Chris Davis a ball, and the first baseman ended up walking.
Still, Farrell provided some much needed perspective on that call.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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