Sports

Just one of many discouraging days for Red Sox

BOSTON ? Now what?
As bad as this Red Sox season has been — and it has been very bad — Thursday may have served as a microcosm of just how discouraging it is.
The day started with a clubhouse merry-go-round of roster moves: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was put on the disabled list; right-hander Joe Kelly was demoted to Pawtucket; catcher Erik Kratz, who was just signed on Monday, was designated for assignment; and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., shortstop Deven Marrero, and right-hander Jonathan Aro all were called up from Pawtucket.
The temporary lockers, which usually don?t come out of storage until much later in the season, already have become a familiar sight in the Sox clubhouse. They are becoming more plentiful each homestand.
Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox best pitching prospect, started the game against the Orioles at Fenway Park. Rodriguez was untouchable through the first three innings, recording five strikeouts, including one to end each inning. His fastball got up to 96 on inning-ending strikeouts to Nolan Reimold in the first and Chris Davis in the second. But he did not throw a first-pitch strike to any batter in that span.
Then with one out in the fourth, the 22-year-old lefty fell apart. He was 0-and-2 to Chris Parmelee, both 96-mph fastballs, then threw him a slider, which Parmelee mashed for a double.
It was all downhill for Rodriguez from there. He gave up seven straight hits ? including an opposite-field, two-run home run to Matt Wieters ? before recording another out, a sacrifice fly to No. 9 hitter Ryan Flaherty, to end his outing. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs, and his ERA ballooned from 3.13 to 4.33. The seven hits and six runs he allowed in the fourth were both one shy of the season high for an inning by Sox pitching this season.
Rodriguez had similar problems two starts ago, when he gave up nine runs to the Blue Jays in 4 2/3 innings. In six starts, he’s been inconsistent — anywhere from lights-out to a meltdown. But it is too soon to send him back to Pawtucket and his upside warrants more chances. Left-hander Brian Johnson had a strong outing Wednesday for the PawSox and would be on schedule to pitch again Monday in Toronto if the Sox decide to make another move.
Aro, who was not even in big league camp this spring and had not pitched above high-A before this season, made his majorlLeague debut Thursday, the fourth of the Sox parade of five pitchers in the game. He went 1 1/3 innings, giving up a run on four hits and two strikeouts. Not great, not awful. Which is about the best the Sox can hope for at this point.
Bradley was in the starting lineup, playing right field, batting ninth. His infield single in the fourth snapped an 0-for-12 slide his season and an 0-for-30 going back to last season. He may be the best center fielder in baseball, but he?s playing right field for now and must prove that he can hit major league pitching.
In 23 games this month, the Sox have scored at least six runs in seven of them, including Thursday?s 8-6 loss to the O?s. For a team that is averaging just 4.02 runs per game, that?s not too bad. But the Sox are just 4-3 in those games. And, with a pitching staff that has allowed an American League-worst 349 runs and is averaging 4.72 runs allowed, six runs usually won?t be enough, as they weren?t on Thursday.
Manager John Farrell announced that Justin Masterson will start on Sunday in Tampa Bay. Make that Justin Masterson of the 2-2 record with a 6.37 ERA who was signed in the offseason to a one-year, $9.5 million contract after going 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA for the Indians and Cardinals last season. He is taking the place of Kelly, who is 2-5 with a 5.67 ERA. Kelly will join Allen Craig in Pawtucket. Craig hit just .135 in 24 games before being sent down. Kelly and Craig joined the Sox at the trade deadline last season in exchange for John Lackey, who is now pitching for the National League Central-leading Cardinals for the major league m

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