'What we learned': Red Sox' 4-2 loss to Tigers
BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers. . .
1) It's not always how many runs you score, but when you score them
The Red Sox have been an offensive juggernaut all season, leading the big leagues in a host of categories from slugging percentage, to doubles, to batting average and, to the one stat that counts the most, runs scored.
But lately, they haven't been able to come up with the big hit when they need it most.
Last week, they didn't score at all with the bases loaded and no out in the ninth.
On Monday night, it was more of the same. They put the leadoff man on in the sixth and seventh, and didn't score, stranding two runners each time. In the eighth, they loaded the bases with no outs and managed a run -- but just one run.
They were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 stranded.
For the next two months -- and into October, if they're good enough -- the Sox are going to be in some low-scoring games against premium pitching. They better learn how to convert some of those opportunities, or else, the nights of scoring double-figures and winning some games in blowouts won't mean much.
2) It's about more than radar readings
Seven of Joe Kelly's pitches Monday night -- his in first relief appearance for the Red Sox this season -- were 100 mph or better.
Velocity is important, and can be valuable for a reliever. Especially when you're coming out of the bullpen, the option to keep the ball out of play altogether is a good one.
But there's more to it than velocity, as Justin Upton proved. Upton saw a 99 mph fastball, and then another at 100 mph. Problem was, he teed off on the 100 mph pitch and laced it to the triangle for a triple, and eventually scored.
Kelly said recently that his attitude coming in from the bullpen was to try to strike everybody out. But he needs more movement to his fastball and at least one other reliable breaking ball to be effective in that role.
Aroldis Chapman throws 100 mph plus, too, but the difference is, his fastball is not straight as a string.
3) Clay Buchholz is pitching better. He's just not having any luck
On Saturday night, Buchholz had a couple of balls drop in in the outfield, thanks to misplays and swirling winds.
On Monday night, Buchholz gave up the softest flare imaginable, then had the runner advance to second on a passed ball, from where he scored on a ball that just got underneath Hanley Ramirez's glove.
He then retired the side in order in the ninth.
His velocity has ticked up to nearly 95 mph and he's throwing with more confidence.
Maybe Buchholz is being kept around as insurance should the Sox suffer an injury to one of their current starters. But maybe, just maybe, if he continues to pitch the way he has the last three outings, he might be of some value to the team out of the bullpen.