For five innings last night, John Smoltz looked pretty solid. The Red Sox had a 2-1 lead, but the Texas Rangers are a dangerous offensive team, and proved it in the sixth. And Smoltz didn't survive it.
When the dust cleared, it was 6-2 and the game was for all purposes over. Smoltz got hammered for 5 runs, three of which were home runs to Michael Young, David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And none of them were cheapies either. They were blasts. It was the first time Smoltz had allowed three home runs in an inning in 15 years.
Smoltz is now 1-3 with a 6.31 ERA. The hue and cry now will be for Clay Buchholz, who opened the second half with a win and went right back to AAA, to return to Boston. Smoltz has been wildly inconsistent, and I'm sure many fans feel he might be better suited to the pen. But I think the Sox right now are content to wait. They won't make any knee-jerk moves based on last night. But Smoltz has to step it up and take the onus off the Red Sox bullpen.
The offense has also sputtered since the break ended. They have scored just 10 runs in the last four games, with Jason Bay and J.D. Drew struggling mightly. Last night actually got off to a good start, as the Red Sox grabbed the early lead on David Ortiz' RBI double, which just missed being a two-run homer.
The fourth inning should have been a much bigger inning, but the Sox only got one more. Jason Bay was thrown out stealing second after a single, and J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell both reached after Bay was cut down. Jason Varitek doubled, scoring Drew, but Lowell was easily thrown out at home to end the inning.
The Red Sox have scored first in the last four games, but have won just once. The offense has looked more moribund as the they go on. There seems to be a lethargy in this team right now, and that's surprising since we've just come off the All-Star break. So will Theo Epstein go out and get another bat to try and jump start it? Still too early to see that as a real possibility.
New York won again last night, so the AL East is now a tie. Josh Beckett, he of the 11-win record, tries to right the ship in Texas tonight against rookie pitcher Tommy Hunter.