Once again, the Boston Red Sox were on the cusp of sustaining a plus-.500 winning percentage barrier that has eluded them thus far in 2012. The idea that this team could string together a couple of wins and walk away from this series with a winning record was within their grasp.
Adrian Gonzalez belted a towering three-run home run to give the team a 3-2 advantage headed in to the ninth inning at home against Tampa Bay.
That's when Alfredo Aceves blew the save allowing a two-run home run to Sean Rodriguez. Now, to be fair, Aceves had just completed a stretch of nine straight saves.
Clay Buchholz had a very solid outing for the team as well (finally). He went seven innings giving up eight hits and two earned runs, walking only one batter while striking out six. Was it an ideal outing? No. Was it nice to see that Buchholz still is capable of a quality start? Yup.
Today's game aside, it is fair to say that the Red Sox pitching staff has bee relegated to relying on just two arms to produce: Josh Beckett and Felix Doubront.
Beckett owns a 4.15 ERA that is getting better with every outing. He posted one bad game that destroyed his ERA. Other than that, he has been lights out for the team, regardless of the lightning rod of controversy he's been this season.
Doubront has been steadily consistent while owning the teams best ERA of 3.96. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 53. Combined with Beckett, they combine to have 98 strikeouts on the season.
Jon Lester, Daniel Bard and Buchholz combine for 102.
While it comes across as a pointless statistic, to me it shows some measure of dominance from 40 percent of the staff and mediocrity from the remaining 60 percent.
Since coming to the starting rotation, Daniel Bard has seen a decrease in his K/9 ratio. Heading into the 2012 season, Bard owned a 9.93 K/9. This season, he has only posted a 5.4 and owns the highest WHIP of his career, sitting at 1.563.
Lester has lost his edge.
Watching him pitch you don't get the feeling that batters are afraid to face him any longer. As if he's lost his edge. This is not a good sign from your ace/No. 2 man on the staff. His ERA is over a point higher than his career average (4.72 versus 3.60) while his WHIP is as high as it has been since his sophomore season in the league.
Opponents are batting .266 off Lester this season. What's more, their BABIP is .294 in games he's won, .317 in games he's lost and .259 in his no decisions. That would be four losses, three wins, three no decisions if you're keeping score at home.
Back to Buchholz, though he had a fine personal outing today, he still owns a 7.19 ERA. That places him 119th of 119-eligible starting pitchers in ERA.
The time has come to realize that he is not the pitcher Red Sox Nation wants him to be. Perhaps, it's time to move on from this experiment if the team could find a willing buyer.
The Red Sox are in need of a few fairly large changes if they intend to right this ship in 2012. Some of the decisions may not render positive feedback from Red Sox fans. These moves could include placing Bard back in the bullpen to fulfill the closer role and even trading Buchholz and/or, dare I say, trading Lester?
This staff can be built around Beckett and Doubront. Maybe the front office has to get creative, but something needs to be done to correct the pitching staff.
With the second-most runs scored in the American League, one thing is for sure, it is not the offense that's the problem here.