On Monday night, The Red Sox pitching staff officially reached its crisis point.
Facing the Tampa Bay Rays — owners of the worst offense in the AL and losers of 11 straight — Eduardo Rodriguez lasted just 2.3 innings, giving up nine runs on 11 hits. The Sox staged a minor comeback, but eventually fell 13-7 at Tropicana Field.
It was their 10th loss in their last 15 games, as they now sit a season-high 4.5 games behind Baltimore for first place in the AL East.
There’s no sugar-coating this one. Rodriguez was pitiful. Teammate Dustin Pedroia made sure he was aware of his sullen demeanor before exiting the game, and management sent a similar message following the game, immediately optioning Rodriguez to Triple-A Pawtucket.
On the heels of three short, poor performances by Boston starters in Texas, the team — and bullpen — needed at least an extended outing from E-Rod.
Dustin Pedroia with some choice words for Eduardo Rodriguez in midst of another meltdown. https://t.co/8STRgXfPeA
— John Tomase (@jtomase) June 28, 2016
But the lefty allowed the Rays to send nine men to the plate in the first inning, to the tune of five runs. The Rays tacked on four more before Rodriguez exited, including a pair of homers in the third.
The latest starter to see an uptick in his ERA, Rodriguez’s now stands at a staff-worst 8.59.
The talk after the game will surely be focused on Pedroia’s verbal emasculation of Rodriguez in the second inning.
After allowing an infield single, Rodriguez visibly hung his head, prompting a mound visit from pitching Coach Carl Willis. The rest of the infield joined the fun, but Pedroia took charge, emphatically directing a number of choice words at his teammate.
Predictably, neither Pedroia nor manager John Farrell elaborated on the nature of the conversation after the game, with Pedroia saying: “I was talking to him about baseball.”
Carl Willis has jogged out to the mound the same number of times tonight as Eduardo Rodriguez. Dustin Pedroia stays put this time.
— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) June 28, 2016
Following the loss, Farrell called a team-only meeting, prohibiting even clubhouse attendants from entering.
The Red Sox were able to muster some offense in garbage time, knocking in four runs in the last four innings, finishing with 12 hits. The 18 hits for the Rays were a season high.
With Rodriguez’s demotion to Pawtucket, it’s unclear where the team will turn for rotation help. The bullpen was once again taxed extensively, so it’s likely the team will call up an extra reliever for the next week.
Red Sox nearing 9-15 record (.375) in June. In the last 9 years, 2 teams ('15 Rangers, '13 Dodgers) reached playoffs despite a <=.375 month.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) June 28, 2016
The loss dropped the Red Sox’ record to 41-35, as the team is now three games under .500 against the American League East. For the sake of comparison, the Orioles are 22-13 against the division.
The Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to the mound Tuesday night for the second game of this three game series. Tampa Bay will counter with Chris Archer.
Is there any way these numbers can be right? Red Sox starters the last four games: 15 innings, 37 hits, 27 earned runs.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) June 28, 2016
Sandy Leon — The backup catcher stayed hot at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with his first home run of the year. With speculation swirling about which catcher will be left out upon Ryan Hanigan’s return, Leon only strengthened his case to stay with the Red Sox.
Sandy Leon is a force to be reckoned with https://t.co/1lb0ejwoKD
— Sox Lunch (@Soxlunch) June 28, 2016
Bryce Brentz — Brentz had another decent night at the dish, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. He’s now hitting .467 in his limited action.
When Bryce Brentz's performance is the highlight of the game for the Red Sox …
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) June 28, 2016
Rodriguez — It’s one thing to pitch horribly, but it’s another thing to look completely defeated. Rodriguez seemed lost, and the Pedroia lashing in the second inning was a truly surreal moment.
David Price (2 1/3 IP, 12 H, 6 ER) & Eduardo Rodriguez (2 2/3 IP, 11 H, 9 ER) both had rough starts in last 4 days pic.twitter.com/q5zvpQynRS
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 28, 2016
It’s not like the team has many better options. Henry Owens has continued to struggle in Pawtucket, and Brian Johnson appears to still be dealing with anxiety issues. Sean O’Sullivan sure isn’t going to move the needle, and Joe Kelly is still hurt. Tough times indeed.
Bullpen — It’s debatable whether or not Farrell needed to use his back-end relievers — Uehara and Kimbrel — but that doesn’t excuse them from pitching horribly. Uehara continued to struggle, surrendering two runs on a hit and a walk in an inning of work, raising his ERA to 5.08. Kimbrel, despite striking out the side, wasn’t much better, allowing one run on three hits in the ninth inning. This team needs four Steven Wrights, and it needed them yesterday.
Koji Uehara has allowed 11 runs and six homers in his last 14 games.
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) June 28, 2016
KEEP AN EYE ON
Dave Dombrowski has stated repeatedly that the team isn’t looking to make a trade this early in the season, but with the division slipping away, they may have no choice.
The most important #RedSox employee at this point is Dave Dombrowski. 35 days to get a starter, a reliever and fix the bench.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) June 26, 2016
In addition to the glaring hole(s) in the rotation and bullpen, the Sox are in desperate need of an everyday left-fielder, which would allow the likes of Brock Holt, Chris Young, and Marco Hernandez to slot back into their appropriate seats on the bench.