'What we learned': Red Sox' 9-4 loss to Yankees
What we learned in the Red Sox' 9-4 loss to the Yankees
Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 9-4 loss to the Yankees:
1) As bad as it was, it could have been far worse
The Red Sox embarrassed themselves on the field, particularly with the performance of the bullpen, which blew a 4-1 and saw the Yankees score eight unanswered runs.
But at least the Red Sox got some good news on David Ortiz. When Ortiz fouled a ball off his right shin and had to be helped off the field, supported by a trainer and manager John Farrell, it seemed like the Red Sox' postseason hopes were limping off with him.
An hour or so later, however, came the news that initial tests proved negative with no break detected. Ortiz is considered day-to-day and could return to the lineup soon.
Even as he's slumped in recent weeks, it's virtually impossible to imagine the Red Sox reaching the playoffs if Ortiz were to be sidelined for any extended period of time. Even at 40, he remains the most indispensible member of the Red Sox lineup, around whom everyone else revolves.
It's no coincidence, surely, that the run-scoring has tapered off in recent weeks as Ortiz has cooled. The thought of being without him for the final 50 games is unthinkable.
2) The bullpen remains a mess
Fernando Abad has been a huge disappointment in the first week, pitching poorly in two high-leverage spots. Robbie Ross Jr. has come back to earth after a hot stretch. And Junichi Tazawa, frankly, looks done.
That leaves John Farrell with limited options in the late innings. Brad Ziegler has been effective, and Craig Kimbrel, despite his ninth-inning meltdown Tuesday, remains a powerful weapon in save situations. Even Matt Barnes, who had an off-night in allowing hits to the first three hitters he faced in the seventh, has proven to be mostly dependable.
But are three reliable relievers enough? There's no guarantee that Koji Uehara is going to return (he just began a throwing program and is weeks away -- at minimum -- from seeing action).
Given the thin bullpen corps, the Red Sox need their starters to regularly take them deep into games, reducing the exposure of the bullpen.
That's easier said than done, of course.
3) Re-arranging the top third of the order didn't change much; the Red Sox need more from their middle third
After John Farrell shuffled Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts around, the three still produced. Pedroia had two hits and an RBI while Bogaerts knocked in a run and walked and Betts had two doubles and an RBI.
The problem is lower in the order. Ortiz is 5-for-35 since the start of the West Coast trip, and Hanley Ramirez is hitless since falling in the dugout in Seattle a week ago.
The sixth spot is also not providing much. Jackie Bradley Jr. hinted at a breakout with two hits Wednesday, but prior to that, had been a woeful 7-for-44.
Beyond that, the Sox are getting little of late from either third-base option - Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw.
Maybe, in time, Betts will have more run-producing opportunities in the No. 3 spot and Pedroia will continue to adapt to the leadoff spot (he's .349 there since the start of 2015).
But the real issue is the middle of the lineup and the recent cold spell Ortiz, Ramirez and Bradley have experienced. It's hard to score enough runs every night if the most powerful part of the order isn't producing.