Boston’s biggest series of the season began with a clank Monday afternoon

Before teeing off on the Red Sox, we will concede that the pandemic has not been particularly kind to them. They have had to stock their lineup with names of no-repute, with some of them quickly establishing reputations of futility.

It should be noted, however, that the pandemic has been unkind to other teams in all sports, not to mention the millions of people who do not play games for a living.

Now, let’s rear back and let loose:

The last two days against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays have produced the worst baseball these eyes have seen from a big-league ballclub - or pretty damned near.

Boston’s biggest series of the season began with a clank Monday afternoon. They were charged with three fielding errors and committed more that via brain freezes. They led 6-0 after an inning and lost 11-10 in 10 innings.

Tuesday night the Rays simply unloaded. Five home runs – including two by Nelson Cruz. The Wall was in clear danger of crumbling under the fuselage.
Down 12-1 in the seventh, the Red Sox put up four in the eighth and two in the ninth. Garbage time may have given them a cloak of respectability but meant little beyond that.

Chris Sale deserved better Monday. He left after 3-2/3 innings have allowed five runs – one of them earned – on 10 hits. His performance was far from perfect but was much closer to adequacy than Eduardo Rodriguez’s on Tuesday night.

Sale should not be the Red Sox’ greatest pitching concern. Even the batter and bruised bullpen must take a place behind Eduardo Rodriguez’s continued search for consistency.

Rodriguez shut down the Rays for six innings last week in St. Pete. Tuesday night the Rays ripped into him for six runs on eight hits.
His 3-2/3 innings were undeniably wretched.

At 11-8, with an ERA of 5.15, it is clear that Rodriguez is physically ailing, mentally ailing or a combination of the two. Whatever its cause, his roller-coaster ride must end if the Red Sox are to nail down their playoff spot in the next three weeks.

The Red Sox remain more likely than not to gain a playoff berth. The American League’s widespread mediocrity has been their most trusted friend.
But if they reach a point at which they need a winning streak to survive, don’t bet on it.

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