BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz didn't pitch very well Monday night at Fenway Park. It didn't matter.
The Red Sox pounded out extra-base hit after extra-base hit and wiped out the 4-1 hole Buchholz had dug by the top of the third inning. They piled up doubles and homers and beat the A's into submission, 14-7.
Tuesday night, the Red Sox will send Sean O'Sullivan to the mound. O'Sullivan has made 58 career starts for four different organization and has an ERA of 5.98.
But it may not particularly matter if O'Sullivan doesn't pitch well either. That's because the Red Sox offense is more than making up for the pitching staff's deficiencies.
Sure, it's nice when the Red Sox get a gem like the one turned in by Steven Wright Sunday night in New York. Powerful as it is, the Red Sox' offense isn't going to score double-figures in runs every night.
But there have been plenty of games in which the lineup has more than covered for the pitching staff. David Price has an ERA of 6.75 and is somehow 4-1.
So much attention has been paid to the Red Sox' starting rotation, it's been easy to miss the other less-glorified development with the 2016 Red Sox: The offense may be the best in the American League.
The offense was expected to be a strong point this season, but few expected it to be this good. The Sox lead the league in, well, you name it: Runs, hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
One of the few categories in which the Red Sox don't lead is homers, and even there, they're ranked in the top half of the league, averaging slightly more than a homer per game.
Seven of the (more-or-less) everyday players have an OPS above .750. Only Mookie Betts (.693) and the catchers (Ryan Hanigan: .478; Christian Vazquez: .603) have way below-average numbers.
Assuming Betts -- who's on pace to top 100 runs scored -- rebounds, the Sox have one weak spot in the lineup. And this offensive upsurge in recent weeks comes at times when the weather has yet to warm up. Presumably, that will only boost the production.
None of which is to suggest that starting pitching is unimportant or overrated. There's a reason why the two highest-paid Red Sox players are both starting pitchers. And to succeed in October, quality starting pitching is absolutely essential.
The postseason is long way away, however, and to get there, teams have to survive the six-month slog of playing day after day and finding alternative ways to win. Sometimes -- as was the case Monday night -- that involved beating the other team with your bats, not your arms.
Over the course of a long season, a consistent offense can keep a team afloat for stretches. In part, that's because opponents have pitching issues, too.
On a given night, there are plenty of mediocre teams using mediocre (at best) starters. And occasionally, as the Sox experienced Monday night with Oakland's Sonny Gray, there are really good starting pitchers going through a rough patch.
The formidable Red Sox offense is one reason the Red Sox can afford to be patient with the likes of Buchholz. They have reason to expect that he'll, at some point, go on one of his patented runs where he pitches well for a couple of months at a time.
Until then, they have a batting order with just one discernible soft spot and the ability to wear down the other team's pitching.
When you're averaging just over five runs per game, you don't need your own pitchers to throw like aces every night, because many times, the team in the other dugout has the same questions about their own pitching -- without an offense to counteract it's staff's failings.