BOSTON — Brock Holt is back, sparking the offense and defense. Hanley Ramirez is hitting, filling that hole behind David Ortiz. Sandy Leon has come out of nowhere and is batting .500.

The Boston Red Sox lineup is again firing away … and again masking the dangerous flaw in this hopeful contender – as Boston beat Texas 12-5.

Rick Porcello did pitch five straight scoreless innings after giving up four runs (three earned) in the first. He never pitched a 1-2-3 inning but came through.

“Just tried to grind through it,” Porcello said. “Obviously, the first inning wasn’t pretty, again.”

Porcello gave up 12 hits, but no walks. He needed 32 pitches in the first inning, but only 71 after that. He put his team in a 4-0 hole, but left with an 8-4 lead.

So, do you celebrate, or worry?


“We feel we have a very strong offensive team,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “We have some pitching situations to stabilize, to correct.”

Funny thing is, when Farrell mentions unstable pitching, he is not talking about Porcello. Besides Steven Wright (in dry weather), Porcello may be the least of the manager’s worries. Heck, the guy is 10-2.

Farrell is on the hot seat because the pitching is so thin, in both the rotation and bullpen. Farrell admits several relievers are gassed.

“We’re starting to see the physical effects of a lot of use of some guys,” Farrell said.

“Five out of seven days, where you have to go to the bullpen early, that’s a lot to ask, particularly at this junction in the season.”

Look at Boston’s last 13 games. The longest start was David Price’s 61/3-inning effort in a loss to Tampa Bay. In nine of those games, the starter lasted fewer than six innings.


Price leads the team in innings (1081/3) but he has hardly been the ace Boston expected with a 4.74 ERA.

Farrell can only hope Price figures it out, Wright keeps dealing and Porcello keeps grinding. After that? The Help Wanted sign is posted at Fenway. Apply now for Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation.

It was thought Eduardo Rodriguez was the answer but, he has an 8.59 ERA in six starts and was sent to Triple-A.

Clay Buchholz? Boston just sent him back to the bullpen.

How about when Joe Kelly comes off the disabled list? Nope. Also headed to the pen.

For now, Boston is handing the ball to Sean O’Sullivan, who pitched five scoreless innings Sunday (before allowing two runs in the sixth). Who figured? O’Sullivan has bounced up and down with several teams throughout his career (5.95 major league ERA). Being a starter for Boston makes for a nice story, but it is not something a contender can rely on.


Who knows if O’Sullivan will keep that fourth spot? (Boston does not need a fifth starter until July 23 because of the All-Star break and a day off)

Maybe Rodriguez regains his form … or Henry Owens … or a mystery guest.

Buchholz cannot be relied upon. As a starter, he’s been terrible (6.31 ERA, 1.51 WHIP – walks/hits per inning). As a reliever, there is hope (2.89/1.21).

Could a bullpen with Kelly and Buchholz make a difference?

The pen needs help. Did I mention Koji Uehara gave a home run Monday – his fifth in his last 12 appearances? He has a 6.73 ERA during that time.

The pieces are just not there, yet, for a championship run.


“This team still has a chance to do something special,” Farrell said. “Yes, we need to improve overall in the pitching … We’re hopeful on a number of things internally that we need to click for us.

“There are a number of things playing out every day that gives us every reason to believe this is a team built to win.”

There is improvement, offensively. Holt coming off the disabled list is a plus. And Leon has been a surprise, including a 4-for-5 day with three doubles. He is good enough defensively that his offense makes him the No. 1 catcher for now, with Christian Vazquez (.226 average) headed to Pawtucket.

Another good sign was seeing Blake Swihart gingerly working out in left field before the game, as he slowly comes back from a severely sprained left ankle.

This team has talent and, as a fan, they are a blast to watch.

The Red Sox have won two straight, by outslugging teams 22-10. They have beaten up on two struggling pitchers – the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (4.40 ERA) and Texas’ Nick Martinez (6.45).

Tuesday night, Boston faces the Rangers’ A.J. Griffin (2.93), while Price takes the mound for the home team. The last time Price faced Texas, he lasted 21/3 innings, allowing six runs.

The slugging Sox better show up.


Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: