First impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox:
Koji Uehara can't be trusted anymore.
Uehara isn't ageless after all. He's looked every bit his 41 years old this season.
He still registers a lot of swings-and-misses -- he had 36 in 26.1 innings coming into Wednesday -- but there's far less margin for error with his split-finger fastball.
For a long time, that pitch dropped off the table and made Uehara almost unhittable, contrasted with his 88 mph fastball. Now, however, he hangs it too frequently and keeps getting burned with home runs.
Uehara has given up five homers this season; he allowed four in all of 2016.
The Sox have to find some other high-leverage options, either internally (Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree) or through trade.
Eduardo Rodriguez took a step forward
Rodriguez didn't pitch as well as he did in most starts in 2016, but it sure represented a sizable improvement over the last three outings.
For one thing, his velocity was easily the best it's been this season, with his fastball regularly at 95-96 mph. For another, he had better overall command with just two walks in six innings.
He also wasn't tipping his changeup. Or, if he was, it wasn't nearly as obvious as the last few starts.
Of the four runs he allowed, just three were earned, and his delivery seemed more natural.
It's too early to say whether the solo homer by Hanley Ramirez means he's out of his funk, but...
The line drive bullet he hit into the home bullpen in the sixth snapped a 4-4 tie and surely was a good sign.
The earlier at-bats - a called third strike and a GIDP - weren't anything special, but Ramirez stayed back on a pitch from Jose Quintana and drove it to right. When Ramirez goes the other way, it's almost always a good sign.
Next up for Hanley: avoid the pronouncements. After last week's promise that he had solved his issues and was on his way to an epic hot streak, he looked foolish when that failed to materialize.
Best to keep at it and let the results materialize.
Deven Marrero can pick it.
Marrero hasn't hit much. Not in the big leagues, where he hit .226 in September playing time. Nor, for that matter, at Triple A, where he's hit just .234 with little power (.307 slugging percentage).
But Marrero can field his position, whether that position is third base or shortstop.
That was again evident Wednesday night when he fielded a scorching grounder by Tim Anderson and got a force out at second base in the fifth inning.
Marrero had taken over at third for Travis Shaw, whose lower shin/ankle, first injured the previous night on a foul ball, flared up and forced him from the game.
The Red Sox' infield depth is perilous now, with both Josh Rutledge and Brock Holt on the DL and Shaw hobbling. The Sox may not get much in the way of pop from him, but they can rest assured that he'll do the job defensively.