Three things learned from Red Sox 8-7 comeback win
1) The starting pitching has to improve -- fast.
Clay Buchholz put the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole in the first inning and was gone before he could get an out in the fifth. Joe Kelly was even worse, falling behind 7-2 and failing to record an out in the fourth.
Incredibly, the Red Sox are 1-1 in games in which their starters beyond David Price have an ERA of 15.43.
Kelly got into hitter's counts too often when he couldn't locate his secondary pitches, and the Blue Jays have a powerful lineup that can do damage in a hurry.
He detailed some mechanical issues he detected, but some answers have to be found quickly.
The Sox have been bailed out by their bullpen, which has allowed just two runs in 12 innings. On Friday, the Sox got five scoreless innings from their relievers and those five pitchers combined to yield just two hits.
But the Sox can't keep asking their offense to dig them out of early sinkholes created by their starters and they can't expected the offense to average almost seven runs per game, as they've done through the first three.
It's one thing for the starters to be less than spectacular. If Buchholz and Kelly had merely gotten into the sixth while allowing three or four runs, that would be one thing. But getting shelled in the early innings isn't sustainable.
Not even a week into the season, the Sox are putting undue strain on their bullpen, and no matter how good their lineup is, that can't continue.
"Obviously, just innings pitched....that's what we need a little bit more of,'' said Farrell in a massive understatement. "Anytime you look at your starting rotation, you're looking for innings pitched and two of the three times, we've come up short.''
2) The Red Sox would be in really big trouble without the contributions they've gotten from Brock Holt and Travis Shaw.
3) If nothing else, the Red Sox have proven they're resilient
On Wednesday, they erased leads of 4-0 and 5-1 and actually took the lead before eventually handing it back. On Friday, they found a way to bounce back from a 7-2 hole.
"Easily,'' noted Kelly, "a game like that last year, we would have lost.''
A lot of credit has to go to the offense and the approach being taken at the plate. In three games against three of the better righthanded starters in the American League -- Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrassco and Marcus Stroman -- the Red Sox have amassed 20 runs.
David Ortiz has as many extra-base hits in three games as he did in his first 15 last year. Hanley Ramirez is successfully using the entire field, going up the middle, and on occasion, the other way. Shaw and Holt have validated the decision to give them more playing time.
But it's not about just hits and runs. It's also about attitude. The Sox haven't been overwhelmed when they fall behind early to quality starters.
"It boosts (the confidence to have comebacks like these),'' said Farrell. "There's a lot of fight in this team and we've been tested twice right out of the gate.''
"To get down early, in a place (sold out) like this tonight, against a huge competitor like Stroman..." said Holt, shaking his head in admiration.
"It's about grinding it out, and getting the next guy up and keeping the line moving.''
It's not a recipe for long-term success, but as an early snapshot of a team, it's an encouraging sign.