Red Sox

Miley strong for Sox in 120-pitch effort

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Miley strong for Sox in 120-pitch effort

BOSTON - Wade Miley threw his 107th pitch to end the sixth inning - but there he was walking back out to the mound for the seventh inning.

If you've watched Miley at any point this season, you know that's fine by him - the guy never wants to be taken out of a game.

With two lefties coming up for the Rays in James Loney and Kevin Kiermaier, Farrell took his chances with Miley for one more inning as opposed to going to his pen. And he almost got out of it clean, too.

Miley got the first two batters of the inning out, but Kiermaier got him for a triple to right field. That ended his day at 6 2/3 innings and 120 pitches. Had Miley got the out, he probably would have hoped to be back out there for the 8th inning, too.

"You want to be out there," Miley said. "It's no fun sitting down. We've got five days before we get to go out and compete again. The longer we get to stay out there the better. It's never fun to come out of the game."

But it's Farrell's call, and even with the righty Rene Rivera due up, Farrell went with another lefty in reliever Robbie Ross Jr. The Rays pinch-hit Rivera but for another righty in Curt Casali. That was OK with Farrell, who was trying to avoid a different hitter at that point.

"They've got John Jaso waiting over there so we're going to stay left-handed and keep him on the bench," Farrell said. "Obviously he pinch-hits later on and you see what he's capable of doing, as was Friday night. But with the left-handers coming, Wade was still on good shape. He gets the first two outs. Loney is 3-for-4 against Ross even before the inning starts. So we were going to stay left-handed through that portion of the order and then as Wade needed to be relieved we were going to remain left-handed all the way through until we got to Longoria."

Ross ended up hitting Casali and walking Brandon Guyer before striking out Joey Butler to get out of the inning unscathed, keeping Miley in line for the win.

Junichi Tazawa gave up two runs an inning later as the Rays came back and won, but that didn't take away from Miley's start. He allowed two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

"A very good assortment of all his pitches," Farrell said. "I thought he blended his offspeed pitches in well against a heavily right-handed lineup. The 3-2 fastball that Guyer runs into to get things started [in the first inning], but other than that he was in command for the time that he was on the mound today."

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

The Red Sox wanted to restore a bit of joy to our lives, but it looks like we'll have to settle for being mad about something other than the state of the world, which is its own form of escapism, I suppose.

Better than nothing.

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Anyway, 10 games into the season, they haven't given us much to cheer, but they've provided plenty of reason to grimace.

From a mix of bad starting pitching to being forced to use openers, from seeing the team's vaunted offense not deliver out of the starting gates to the continuing slog of marathon games, there's no shortage of issues that the Sox are dealing with a sixth of the way through their schedule.

Here are 10 of the worst aspects of the Red Sox season through 10 games.

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

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USA TODAY Sports photos

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

For two rookies who weren't on anyone's radar until about this time last year, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have turned out to be massive losses for the Red Sox.

The two young power left-handers stabilized the bullpen over the final two months of 2019, with Hernandez striking out batters at a record rate and Taylor emerging as an every-other-day workhorse.

Hernandez struck out a staggering 57 in just 30.1 innings (16.9 K/9), with a 4.45 ERA. In 23 appearances from July 16 through Sept. 6, he posted a 2.31 ERA. Taylor, meanwhile, was even more consistent. He delivered a 3.04 ERA in 57 appearances, and from July 2 through the finale, allowed only eight runs in 40 innings.

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Both feature 95-mph fastballs and both figured to play expanded roles in this truncated season, but when spring training 2.0 began in July, both were missing because of failed COVID tests. Taylor quarantined in his hotel near Fenway Park while battling fatigue. Hernandez remained in his native Venezuela for the first three weeks of July.

They're both now in Pawtucket, facing hitters for the first time in months. Each threw live BP over the weekend, and Taylor could be activated this week, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday in New York.

The trickle-down effect has been significant. Roenicke has had little answer for innings two through five, relying on lesser arms like Austin Brice, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Jeffrey Springs either to serve as openers or bridge the gap to more established relievers like Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and closer Brandon Workman.

As a result, on the days Nathan Eovaldi doesn't start, the Red Sox have finished the fifth inning trailing by an average score of 5-2.

A healthy Hernandez and Taylor could alter that dynamic in two ways. First, one of them could start and contribute as an opener. Roenicke said the Red Sox are stretching out Hernandez to throw two or three innings, which would make him a more dynamic candidate for the role than some of the flotsam the Red Sox have been forced to feature in his absence.

But even if both remained relievers, they'd either be available to throw in the early innings instead of Springs (33.75 ERA) or Hall (15.43 ERA), or they could bump someone like Walden or Hembree down there. Ten games into the season, too many games have already been lost before Roenicke could even warm his better relievers.

With the lack of legitimate starting pitchers forcing Roenicke to finesse his way through four out of every five games, the Red Sox can ill afford to enter battle without their full complement of weapons. Who knew that two guys we had barely heard of early last season would end up being such pivotal missing pieces?