The Red Sox return home Thursday after a quick two-game series in Cincinnati to wrap up an eight-game trip that has given us the chance to see a little bit of everything.
Just like on Saturday night in Anaheim.
We saw 19 innings worth of baseball that ended with Albert Pujols’ walk-off homer. It was a disappointing loss for the Sox, who were held to six hits in a marathon that lasted 6 hours, 31 minutes.
The Sox and Angels were back at it a few hours later, and Boston pulled out a 3-1 win to take 2 of 3 from the Angels.
The game included a couple of firsts: Yoenis Cespedes hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox and Rubby De La Rosa won his first road game of the year.
We expected the big hit from Cespedes. We haven’t been sure what to expect from De La Rosa, or any of the young pitchers trying to earn a spot in the Boston rotation.
These final two months of the season have become “Mound Idol,” where young contestants get their chance to show judges in the Red Sox front office what they can do with their talent.
They’ve all got talent. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made it this far.
The question is, do any of them have it, that special something that turns a good young pitcher into a dependable major league starter?
On Sunday, De La Rosa definitely looked like he had it, striking out eight and limiting the Angels to one run in seven innings.
Two nights earlier, Allen Webster had his best start with the Red Sox when he went 62/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits.
It was a far cry from Webster’s previous start, when he walked five Yankees in the third inning and was pulled after just 22/3 innings.
Webster and De La Rosa were the two pitching prospects acquired from the Dodgers two years ago in the blockbuster, nine-player trade that reset the Boston franchise.
Most baseball people were stunned that the Sox were able to get such high-caliber prospects in return for a deal that was heralded primarily as a salary dump to the West Coast.
Over the weekend, we saw the fruits of that trade.
Yet we should know not to get too carried away by one, or even two, good starts.
Earlier this season Brandon Workman had moved to the front of the pack of this bumper crop of young pitching talent working its way up the system. Now Workman has lost each of his last six starts and is slipping toward the back of the pack.
Felix Doubront slipped so much he was traded away for a player to be named later.
At one point he was a lefty who projected to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Sox. Now he’s gone.
Already this month, we’ve seen Anthony Ranaudo win his big-league debut. Henry Owens has moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket and continues to dominate. Matt Barnes might have the most electric fastball of the bunch. Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez are a pair of lefties worth watching at Hadlock Field with the Portland Sea Dogs.
The Sox have retooled their offense and feel better about what their lineup will look like next season. How the rotation looks will be mainly decided by this season of “Mound Idol.” It’s an arms race that will leave some performing in the bright lights of major league baseball, while others will be left trying to find other avenues to the big leagues.
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.