What we learned in Red Sox' 4-0 loss to Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday afternoon . . .
David Price is embarrassed
You can say a lot of things about the first-year lefty, including but not limited to the fact that he's been a huge, expensive disappointment. As the season approaches the halfway point -- the Sox will play Game 81 on Sunday -- Price's ERA is dangerously close to 5.00.
The suggestion that Price is happy to collect a million dollars per start, regardless of outcome, reflects ignorance. Price cares. Deeply. Perhaps even more than he should.
When the clubhouse was opened to the media, some 20 minutes after the end of the game and long after Price had been lifted in the seventh inning, he was still in his full uniform, sitting in front of his locker, head in hands.
He spent six or seven minutes answering questions from reporters, taking himself to task with every response.
"Bad. Again. I'm just putting us behind the eight-ball early in games,'' said Price. "I'm so much better than this. I've just got to get better. It's crushing me right now . . . It's not bad luck, it's me.''
That accountability is, on one hand, refreshing. Price feels a responsbility to his teammates and the fans. He's not making excuses, or rationalizing a poor outing. He's owned the bad ones, every one of them.
Problem is, there have been too many of those. In 6 of his 16 starts, Price has allowed four or more runs.
It's great Price grasps what's going on and isn't afraid to criticize himself. But at some point, the acknowledgements and apologies don't do much good.
Price has to be far more consistent, and in short order.
Offensive ineptitude is back
In the last few days, the Red Sox have shown signs of emerging from their hitting funk. They scored seven runs Monday and eight more Tuesday, after putting up eight in their comeback win Friday night in Texas.
But matched up against strugglng Matt Moore (5.04 ERA coming in), the Sox were feeble -- no-hit through the first five innings, limited to five singles for the game and shut out for the third time this season.
On Tuesday, the middle portion of the order came alive, with David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw combining for nine hits and all eight runs.
But Moore handcuffed them, especially in the sixth when the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out and couldn't push even a single run across the plate.
Hanley Ramirez, who nearly screwed himself into the ground with a gigantic swing with the bases full and two down, acknowledged that he had visions of "the grand salami . . . live or die.''
But that's not the approach to be taken in the sixth, trailing by four. A base hit would have cut the lead in half and left two more runners in scoring position with three more innings to make up the deficit.
The Sox find themsleves in the familiar rut of a skidding team: When they hit, they don't pitch, and when they pitch, they don't hit.
On Wednesday, they changed it up some and did neither. But a little offense might have made things interesting.
Schedule may rescue the starting staff . . . again
With Eduardo Rodriguez optioned to Pawtucket following his disastrous outing Monday night, the Sox will need someone -- they're not saying who, at least not yet -- to start Sunday in the final game of their series with the Los Angeles Angels. (Aside: Put your money on Aaron Wilkerson, who has pitched well in Pawtucket and who is scheduled to pitch on Sunday.)
But with an off-day this Thursday and another to follow next week, on July 7, the Sox can use that turn in the rotation just once before the All-Star break.
Then, with an off-day on July 18 after their first series of the second half in New York, they wouldn't necessarily need a fifth starter until July 23. By then, assuming they're still in contention, the trade deadline would be just over a week away and the Sox could perhaps anticpate getting some pitching help from outside the organization.
The risk, of course, is that by skipping the fifth starter's spot, the Red Sox won't be able to take advantage of giving their top starters some additional rest. But that's probably less important than going with an unknown entity any more than they have to. And the All-Star break will represent a four-day break for their starters, with the possible exception of Steven Wright, who could be selected -- and maybe even start -- the All-Star Game.