'What we learned': Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to Royals
BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals . . .
1) There’s no running away from the bullpen problem
The Red Sox appeared at have the game at hand.
After David Ortiz launched the 534th home run of his career in the fourth, Boston’s offense jumped on the hard-throwing Yordano Ventura for three runs.
Then the wheels fell off, again.
Eduardo Rodriguez left Matt Barnes with a bases loaded jam, and Barnes couldn’t get an out.
Then in what appeared to be a never-ending inning, the Red Sox were down 10-4.
Five runs to Barnes’ name without recording an out. And Robbie Ross didn’t help him either, giving up two hits with runners on.
“That one’s one me,” Barnes said. “I’ve got to do a better job of securing that lead and getting out of that inning.”
Both Barnes and Ross are relievers John Farrell’s come to trust -- whether it’s by force or choice. Although these nights will happen over a 162-game stretch, they’ve happened too frequently.
With the rosters set to expand at the start of September, Farrell doesn’t plan to bring up any players prior to the call-ups.
Even though the bullpen has become the number one concern on the Red Sox’ list of issues -- by far -- the relievers claim they still have faith in one another.
“I think everybody in that bullpen believes in every single person down there,” Barnes said. “It’s a long season, you’re going to go through bumps. Our bullpen was incredibly good for the first couple of months this season. Our bullpen is still throwing the ball well, it just gets magnified a little bit coming down the stretch.”
2) The bottom of the order is an essential piece to the Sox’ success
The bottom third of the order accounted for ¾ of Boston’s runs in the loss. Sandy Leon was the most recent move to the bottom of the order, dropping down to eighth in the order to join Jackie Bradley Jr.
JBJ is 3-for-6 with a run, an RBI and two doubles since moving back to the 9-hole Saturday. In addition to reaching on an error, Leon finished 1-for-3, after going hitless in the previous two games. And Young set the tone for the trio, going 2-for-4.
Bradley and Leon have hit much better than the average eight-nine combination all season, and if they continue to do so, then both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts will start to see their RBI-total climb in the closing weeks of the season.
Not to mention the Red Sox should win a few more games they might otherwise not if they had run-of-the-mill No. 8 and 9 hitters.
3) Shut-down innings are becoming a problem again
The eight runs tonight after Boston scored three in the sixth were glaring.
But David Price also gave up two runs Saturday after the Red Sox spotted him two runs -- he did convert his next three shut-down inning opportunities.
In the final game of the Tampa Bay Series, Drew Pomeranz gave up a run right after the Red Sox scored in the sixth -- only to lose 2-1.
This was a major problem early in the season for Boston, but seemed to go away with the starting rotation’s surge in August.
However, now it’s slowly creeping back into games. If the Red Sox don’t address that issue quickly, the entire staff could become problematic again -- not just the bullpen.
“Always the biggest inning is the shut-down inning after we take the lead,” John Farrell said after the 10-4 loss.