At their core, the Red Sox are a flawed team. I know it, you know it, Canada knows it.

Led by a perfect blend of dynamic young talent and highly-productive veterans, the offense is relentless. But without Carson Smith, the bullpen doesn’t match up well against elite offenses. And despite some encouraging performances, it’s difficult to trust most of the starting rotation.

All of those factors were on display in Friday’s 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Joe Kelly was masterful last Sunday in his return from the disabled list, but he was horrendous in his follow-up. He racked up eight strikeouts, but allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also walked three and hit a batter.

Honestly, and I say this seriously, he reminds me of Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz has never had the high-90s fastball that Kelly possesses, but the rest is eerily similar.

Both have front-line starter talent, but neither can command the strike zone with any consistency. And, much like Buchholz, Kelly falls in love with his tailing two-seam fastball against left-handers, often missing inside, or leaving it over the plate.

By the time the fifth inning rolls around, both usually have me eternally grateful that Comedy Central has morphed into a never-ending loop of South Park.

And most frustratingly, neither the team nor the fans have any idea what either pitcher is going to do each time they take the mound. Which, at this point, is why neither should ever be trusted with making a start in the postseason.

The Red Sox tied the score on three separate occasions Friday night, but were never able to hold a lead.

An RBI single off the bat of Hanley Ramirez tied the score 2-2 in the fourth inning, though the Red Sox had a chance for more.

More certainly would’ve helped, because Kelly gave it right back, coughing up two runs on two hits, two walks, and a hit-batter.

True to form, manager John Farrell trotted Kelly back out for the fifth, giving him just enough time to allow a leadoff solo homer to Justin Smoak.

A two-run single by Christian Vazquez in the seventh narrowed the margin to 5-4, and a pair of lucky hits from Dustin Pedroia and Travis Shaw tied the score in the eighth.

But Josh Donaldson killed the Sox all night, and his two-run homer off Koji Uehara in the eighth proved to be difference.

The reigning AL MVP finished 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs.

The bullpen was actually quite good up until that point. But without Carson Smith, Boston has no choice but to have someone like the light-throwing Uehara — who Toronto is plenty familiar with — pitch meaningful innings from time-to-time against a lineup that simply overmatches him.

With the loss, the Red Sox dropped to 29-19 on the season. More importantly, they’re now 10-9 against teams from the AL East, and 19-9 against everyone else.

It’s no secret that playoff teams have to be at their best against division opponents, and the Red Sox simply haven’t been so far.

They’ll look to get back on track tomorrow afternoon when they send Rick “launch-pad” Porcello to the mound in search of his eighth win of the season.


Matt Barnes — Barnes was impressive on Friday, and he may be called upon more often as the season progresses. In relief of Kelly, Barnes threw 1 1/3 innings and struck out two without allowing a hit. In 23.2 innings-pitched, Barnes now has a 2.66 ERA. He can get a bit wild at times, and while his fastball can stay a little too straight, he’s the kind of young, live arm that the team needs right now.

Xander Bogaerts — Nothing that splashy, but Bogarts did extend his hitting-streak to 20 game with a fourth-inning single off of Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez. His .345 batting-average is tops in the American-League.

Travis Shaw — Shaw didn’t tear the cover off the ball on Friday, but he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and his average currently stands at .303. It’s worth noting because while Shaw is in a relatively dry period — compared to his torrid start — he hasn’t gone into a full-blown slump since last summer. He’ll have his peaks and valleys, but he’s played great all season long.


Joe Kelly — SEE ABOVE.

Blake Swihart — Swihart finished the game 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, as the Red Sox continue to play him in left field. I think Swihart’s legit, but he’s yet to show the same pop that he showed last year as the season progressed.

Koji Uehara — In taking the loss, Uehara now holds a 4.26 ERA. He actually wasn’t that bad, but Donaldson got the better of him, as he has so many others over the last few years. Donaldson’s two-run homer followed a bunt single by Ezequiel Carrera, and Uehara proceeded to strikeout two of the final three batters.

Koji can still be effective, but these AL East teams have seen a lot of him over the last few seasons, and the deception that he thrives on may finally be wearing off. Of the nine earned-runs Uehara has allowed this season, seven have come against AL East teams, six of which courtesy of the Blue Jays.


The Red Sox announced Friday Afternoon that Clay Buchholz would, mercifully, be moving to the bullpen, with Eduardo Rodriguez finally making his return to the rotation Tuesday in Baltimore.

But this whole situation is a mess. Buchholz has been terrible, Kelly was really good at the end of last year, but has been really bad for a majority of the time that he’s pitched this season, and who knows if Rodriguez is actually ready.

It wasn’t long ago that his knee was flaring up on him again, and his fastball velocity has been down ever since he started rehabbing in Pawtucket.

I expect the Red Sox will have slightly longer leashes with Rodriguez and Kelly, but things could get interesting if neither shows the consistency that the rotation desperately needs.