By: Jake Perda
On Monday night, the Sox suffered a 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals, missing out on an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the American League East. In addition, it was made painfully apparent why many of us that watch the team have a hard time believing that they will be the ones that ends up atop the division come October.
When fully healthy, the Red Sox boast one of the most talented rosters in all of baseball. But since Spring Training began back in March, the health of this team has been a complete downward spiral. They have gone from having an excess of starting pitching to being forced to trot out Hector Velazquez every fifth day. Speaking of which, Velazquez took the mound on a Monday night in which the Sox lack of depth was nothing short of cringeworthy.
Velazquez had a surprisingly good outing when taking into consideration that he’s being stretched out after appearing in long relief last week. It certainly wasn’t anything to brag about, but I’ll take 5 ⅓ innings with 2 earned runs from Velazquez 10 times out of 10. Watching the game, it was hard to understand why the Royals weren’t spraying the ball around the ballpark. Velazquez wasn’t doing anything special. He was sitting in the mid to high 80’s with his fastball, there wasn’t anything dazzling about his offspeed pitches, and he was throwing plenty of strikes. The only start that I can really compare it to was the start that Jered Weaver turned in against the Sox last year. His fastball sat at 83 and Dennis Eckersley spent the whole game talking about how embarrassing it was that the Red Sox couldn't barrell up this “disappearing salad”. Velazquez will likely live to see another start, but it’s going to be tough to feel confident knowing what he brings to the table.
The pitcher that received the loss for this game was Blaine Boyer. The fact that my first reaction every time this guy comes out of the bullpen is “Who the hell is Blaine Boyer?” should go to show how depleted this bullpen has become. Outside of Chris Sale, nobody on this staff has proven capable of consistently going longer than 6 innings, so it’s been up to the bullpen to work the final 3+ innings 4 out of every 5 nights. Since the Red Sox only have 3 or 4 reliable relievers to begin with, something will need to change if they want to continue to fight for first place
By far the most embarrassing part of the night was when the Sox were forced to move Christian Vazquez to 3rd base. That’s right, after Pablo Sandoval was pinch hit for by Chris Young, the Red Sox best option was to have their catcher play the hot corner. This should piss you off for a couple of reasons. First off, the Sox need to cut Pablo Sandoval and be done with him. That’s a rant for another article, but just to give you a taste: He’s batting .212 and has 5 errors in 29 games. That’s not good. Secondly, it sucks that we don’t have a farm system. We don’t have anyone outside of (maybe) Rafael Devers who can replace Sandoval, and we don’t have anyone outside of Rafael Devers who we can trade to acquire someone to replace Sandoval. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but perhaps Dave Dombrowski shouldn’t have traded away nearly every top 10 prospect that he inherited. I understand that he’s big on winning now and that he had no way of knowing what trades would and wouldn’t pan out, but at some point you have to realize that he hurt the present just as much as he hurt the future.
The Sox are still in position to move into sole possession of first place with a win and a Yankees loss. Although it way not be time to start scoreboard watching yet, these are the small moral victories that we will need to help us ignore that our players are dropping like flies, our $217 million pitcher hates our city and everyone in it, and that Pablo Sandoval is still on our roster. On a more positive note, Tuesday is a Chris Sale day. You’re not going to want to miss this.
(Photo: Boston Herald)