'What we learned': Red Sox’ 3-1 loss to White Sox
BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. . .
1) Clay Buchholz may not be much right now, but he's the best No. 5 option the Red Sox have
After Buchholz pitched five innings and allowed three runs, John Farrell said he would take his next scheduled turn Sunday in Texas.
That makes sense, believe it or not. First, Buchholz didn't pitch badly. Yes, he was behind 1-0 after one pitch and trailed 2-0 after the fourth hitter of the night, but he held the White Sox to 2-for-15 the rest of the way.
Three runs in five innings doesn't even qualify as a quality start -- and we can debate the veracity of that term forever -- but it wasn't a horrible outing, especially for someone whose last started was more than three weeks ago.
The fact remains that the Sox don't have any other better options. Roenis Elias? Not after what he showed last week (seven runs in three innings). Henry Owens? Sure, he pitched a one-hitter in seven innings for Pawtucket Tuesday, but before that outing, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was a tad better than 1-to-1. If you can't consistently command the ball at Triple A, you're not about to get it done in the big leagues.
And remember: this is the No. 5 spot we're talking about here. Even if Buchholz pitched only a tad batter than he did last night -- say, six innings, three runs allowed -- most times out, that would be good enough to give the Red Sox a chance to win half those outings.
2) The problem with the Red Sox is pitching, right? Not exactly
Over the last 15 games, during which the Red Sox are an uninspiring 7-8, the team has posted a 3.10 ERA.
Yes, there were a couple of clunkers in there, led by Elias's first start of the year. But for the most part, as was the case Tuesday night, Red Sox starters have kept the team in the game.
Had the offense produced anywhere near the level that it did in the first two months of the season, the Red Sox would have likely gone, oh, 10-5 in those games.
But the Sox are in the middle of a stretch where they're just 10-for-76 with runners in scoring position.
It was more of the same Tuesday night. The Sox had runners at first-and-second with no outs and managed a measly run. In the eighth, they had runners at first-and- second with one out and didn't get anything out of it.
It wasn't as bad as failing to score with the bases loaded in the ninth and no out, but it still contributed to another loss.
"As a group, we haven't been clicking as we had for many games,'' acknowledged John Farrell. "We're in a little bit of a dry spell...Where we've been so good for much of the season, of late, that's been a struggle -- (capitalizing on) men in scoring position.''
3) The ninth inning decision-making was unorthodox
Trailing by two with two out, John Farrell sent David Ortiz to the plate to pinch-hit against closer David Robertson.
That seemed odd, since ordinarily, you'd want Ortiz to come up representing the tying -- if not winning -- run.
Ortiz worked a walk, which led to Farrell sending up the left-handed hitting Marco Hernandez to hit for righty Deven Marrero, with a pinch-runner on first for Ortiz.
Had Farrell waited, however, there's no guarantee that Sandy Leon, the scheduled hitter, would have reached base. In that scenario, Farrell run the risk of not getting Ortiz to the plate at all in the ninth.
"Looking to extend it,'' offered Farrell. "It was going to take both (Ortiz) and Marco, in some combination. So, granted, it's not an ideal situation where they potentially take the bat out of (Ortiz's) hand. But still, to wait, you could be waiting with (Ortiz) sitting on the bench and the game is over.
"Looking for a way to extend the game right there.''
Again, with the Red Sox for the second night in a row at the bottom of their order in the ninth inning, trailing, the focus may be on Farrell's strategy, but his lack of bench options played an equal or bigger role in the outcome.