BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 8-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday at Fenway Park.
1. When it rains, it pours for Xander Bogaerts.
If Xander Bogaerts really wants to convince the Red Sox that he's their shortstop of the future, he might have to find a time machine and set it for Friday, Aug, 15, 7:05 PM EST.
Bogaerts made his first big mistake of the series on Friday night. After fielding the ball at shortstop, Bogaerts could have made the easy throw to first base for the final out. Instead, he was late with a throw to second base. The tying run scored, and later that night the Red Sox lost.
On Sunday, more trouble at shortstop. Bogaerts failed to make the 6-3 inning-ending double-play, throwing to first base for the out before his foot touched second base. That prolonged the inning for Jose Altuve to eventually smash a grand slam.
After the game, Bogaerts was pretty much beside himself. While it's clear he's trying hard to remain positive and not dwell on his struggles, it's not easy for him to do. It seems like his struggles are eating away at his confidence, despite him trying to convince everybody otherwise.
"I think I'll definitely benefit from [this season]," Bogaerts said. "You can't be going more worse than I am right now, you know? So keep going at it. Come in with a positive attitude. Every day I come in here I feel great. Just results-wise it's not going my way. Just keep battling and keep enjoying it."
Should the Sox have sent him down to Pawtucket earlier this season? It's easy to say yes in hindsight. But it didn't happen. John Farrell still feels that Bogaerts has made progress this season.
"Without a question," he said. "Despite the results, because you're not going to get the experience at any other level. While he's been challenged at times, he's also been very good at times. Through these experiences we feel and are very confident that he'll be better off for them."
It's been a lost season for the Red Sox, and nobody looks more lost right now than Bogaerts.
2. Wait, so what's the rule?
Am I the only one still trying to figure out just what exactly the rule is at second base?
Is the "neighborhood rule" in place or not? It sounds like it is, unless it isn't . . . and that doesn't make much sense. The umpires didn't know at first, and Farrell certainly didn't know either. He still sounded a bit annoyed by the explanation after the game.
We see it all the time: The middle infielder receives the ball, slides over second base, and gets out of the way of the baserunner before making the throw to first base. That's the neighborhood rule - it's allowed.
It's also been labeled as a non-reviewable play.
On Sunday, Bogaerts clearly released the ball before touching second base - we're not debating that. The runner was ruled out though. Why was the play reviewable? Because the ball wasn't thrown to Bogaerts first?
The umpires phoned "New York" where they were told it was reviewable. Hmm, OK then. If that's the case, the managers, players, and umpiring crew should be aware of that long before it happens - and they weren't.
"My initial explanation on the field was that the front end of the double play is a non-reviewable play," Farrell said, "and my interpretation is that the neighborhood play should not be dependent upon a feed throw or not. The neighborhood play is not a reviewable play."
File under: another unwritten rule.
3. It's uncertain who will the ace be next season.
It's been a long time since the Red Sox haven't had an ace or anything resembling one. But that's the case for the rest of this season.
It will be the main storyline of the offseason: Which pitcher will the Red Sox sign over the offseason that will start Game 1 of the 2015 season?
Looking around, if it's any of the current pitchers on this team then something went terribly wrong over the winter.
It's not to say that the Red Sox have a bunch of bad pitchers. They've got some solid middle-to-end-of-the-rotation guys up with the team right now, and a couple of young pitchers in the minors they are very high on in Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens.
Ranaudo should be ready next season. Owens may need another year.
Joe Kelly is probably a No. 3 pitcher in the majors. He's certainly not as bad as he was on Sunday, but he's not a guy that anchors your staff either. We can say the same for Clay Buchholz over a much larger body of work. Rubby De La Rosa has shown flashes, but not to the point where you're thinking top of the rotation.
It'll be interesting to see how Brandon Workman fairs tonight against the Angels after his last start was skipped.
Still, it won't be as interesting as watching Ben Cherington go to work in building the rotation for 2015.