What we learned about the Red Sox Tuesday night

What we learned about the Red Sox Tuesday night
July 2, 2014, 11:00 am
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BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Red Sox's 2-1 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night . . .

1) Clay Buchholz still has some juice to his fastball.

Before going on the disabled list, Buchholz's fastball had a hard time cracking 90 mph, and there were those who wondered if he'd ever have regain the pop of a top-half-of-the-rotation arm.

On Tuesday he repeatedly hit 94 mph on the Fenway Park radar gun.

Buchholz said after the game that the power to his four-seamer and the angle with which he threw it "felt as good as it felt all year."

In actuality, it's probably been a full 12 months since he had that type of fastball off of which to base his offspeed stuff. That's when he first hit the disabled list after putting together an All-Star caliber first half of 2013.

Buchholz only struck out two Cubs on Tuesday, but if the velocity on his fastball is any indication as to how he's feeling, he's as close to 100 percent as anyone has seen in a long time.

2) It's possible for Koji Uehara to look his age.

After allowing the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Uehara has now allowed four earned runs in his last seven appearances. For a guy who had allowed only two earned runs in his first 31 appearances this season, it's been a bit of a jarring stretch.

Might it signal that Uehara's age is catching up to him? He turned 39 in April and tossed a big-league career-high 74.1 innings last season.

Uehara admitted after the game to feeling some fatigue and said he hoped to corral his splitter, which hitters have pounced on early in counts when they know he'll try to throw it for a strike.

While Uehara's high-80s fastball doesn't leave him much room for error, and despite the fact that he's not getting any younger, this recent run of difficulty doesn't necessarily signal the initial stages of his descent back to earth.

In April and May of 2013, he had a run of six appearances as a setup man when he allowed four earned runs -- a rut similar to this one.

He followed that up with seven scoreless outings out of the bullpen, and about a month later he began one of the most dominant seasons by a closer that baseball has ever seen.

If all he needs is a little rest to solve his problems and keep him strong for the duration of the season, one would think that's a trade-off the Red Sox would gladly make.

3) The Red Sox offensive slump hasn't spared the young.

In the two games since the Red Sox have returned home from their 10-game road trip, they've managed 10 hits and one run. Neither Xander Bogaerts nor Mookie Betts has chipped in to either of those meager numbers.

For those who held out hope that Betts might continue to hit at the pace he's shown in the minor leagues, that hasn't been the case. While he hasn't appeared overmatched per se, he has just one hit in 11 at-bats and he has yet to reach base in two games at Fenway.

"I think he's managed his at-bats pretty well," Farrell said. "There was a number of breaking balls that he took just off the plate I believe in his third at-bat [Tuesday]. He's not jumpy. He seems to be relaxed in the box, and yet not a lot to show for it."

Bogaerts' current slump is at a wholly different level. 

After an 0-for-4 performance on Tuesday, he's now recorded two hits in his last 42 at-bats. He struck out twice against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, who like so many others, fed Bogaerts a steady diet of offspeed pitches -- sliders, especially. 

The balance and timing of Bogaerts' swing on those secondary offerings has him looking as lost as he ever has in a Red Sox uniform. 

With a wealth of talent and a demeanor that has consistently drawn praise as being beyond his 21 years of age, the likelihood is this won't last long for Bogaerts. But there are some undeniable mechanical changes he needs to make to be any sort of threat at the plate going forward.

"I think more than anything he's rushing a little bit in the box, rushing out to his landing," Farrell said. "Whether that allows him to see the ball clearly in flight . . . that's where you see the early commitment. The slider is probably giving him a little bit of trouble right now."

Perhaps Bogaerts has already started to trend in the other direction. He hit a rocket to center that looked destined for the base of the center field wall for a run-scoring extra-base hit in the fourth inning on Tuesday, but it was snagged on an acrobatic play by Justin Ruggiano.

Sooner or later, squared-up balls like that one will find some open space.