On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox were in a rubber match with the Tampa Bay Rays to decide who would win the series. Things started off fairly well; the team was only down 3-2 after five, and 4-2 after seen. Most would assume that the team could still have come back from a two-run deficit. Then, the ninth inning happened. Robbie Ross Jr. happened. Heath Hembree happened. That’s when it all fell apart.
Boston Red Sox Bullpen Failures
After giving up a first-inning sac fly to Evan Longoria, the Red Sox responded with a run of their own in the bottom half. Xander Bogaerts doubled to left, scoring Mookie Betts. Jesus Sucre frove in the next two runs for the Rays, with a sac fly in the second, and a double to sore Kevin Kiermaier in the 4th.
In the 3rd inning, starter Drew Pomeranz was removed from the game with left tricep tightness. He experienced the same injury all the way back in Spring Training, and he sat out until the start of the regular season. He does not appear to be as lucky this time around. David Price does appear to be on track to return next week, but on heels of another injury the Red Sox just can’t catch a break.
The pitching staff has to change something. In the ninth, a combination of Ross and Hembree gave up seven runs total, turning a potentially winnable game into a game that the players just wished was over.
So far this season, the bullpen has been a major thorn in the side for the Red Sox. Coming into the year, the acquisition of Tyler Thornburg help put the Red Sox over the edge in an effort to dominate the AL East. Outside of, Joe Kelly, Fernando Abad, and Craig Kimbrel, only one relief pitcher has an ERA under 4.00. That is just simply not acceptable for a team that is intent on winning the World Series.
In the month of May, the Red Sox bullpen is getting rocked. Hembree, Matt Barnes, Ben Taylor, and Ross all have an ERAs all higher than 8.31. That number looks worse when one realizes that it is not just the result of one-inning blowups for any of those pitchers; all have pitched at least three innings so far this month. The heat on the bullpen should lessen a bit once Price, who can consistently goes seven-plus, comes back into the rotation next week.
In a nutshell, the returns of Carson Smith and Thornburg should help turn this bullpen around from one of the worst, to one of the best. At this point, it’s tough to say exactly when those arms will be able to make appearances. Whenever it is, it will be very much appreciated.
The Red Sox are now 19-18, just one game under .500 and 4.5 games back of the red hot New York Yankees. They have the day off on Monday, but pick back up with inter-league play on Tuesday, when they open a homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals.