Boston Red Sox

Remember when the Sox rotation was in good shape?

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Remember when the Sox rotation was in good shape?

"The Red Sox appear to have the top of their rotation set for the next five years. The rest of it is in pretty good shape, too."

I was Googling around this morning, trying to brush up on the details of Josh Becketts wildly-depressing contract, when I came across this lead. Its from an AP story that was published on April 5, 2010, the day after Beckett signed his four-year, 68M extension with the Sox.

Funny how perfect it all looked back then. With Beckett re-signed, John Lackey inked for five years and Jon LesterClay Buchholz under control through 2014, we all thought the Sox had it made. If nothing else, they'd always have pitching. One of the best staffs in the AL, in fact.

"It's hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching," Theo Epstein said at the time. "When you have that starting pitching, you don't want to let it get away. It's hard to acquire in free agency. It's hard to acquire in trades. And it's hard to draft and develop this kind of starting pitching. ... That's the biggest building block on which we can go about finishing off the rest of the club."

Ugh.

It's crazy how much things can changed in a few years, but no doubt that they have. There's no doubt that the core that was supposed to carry this team through these last three seasons and beyond is now the biggest hurdle standing between the Sox and success. Beckett and Lackey have piled up their nine years150M and defecated on it. Lester's regressed. I don't think any of us are ready to count him out, but we never imagined this. Buchholz is hard to beat when he's healthy and focused, but that's only come in spurts. Right now, he's great. But how long will that hold up?
Of course, this is nothing new. Like I said, we're now in our third season of watching this "elite" pitching staff underachieve and sabotage Boston's hopes. While we once beamed at the prospect of their time together, we're now left begging for it to end . . .

While simultaneously fearing that it won't.

I mean, at this point, will anyone be surprised if they're all back next season? If somehow, the Sox justify keeping Beckett and Lackey in the mix? I won't be. And in turn, won't be surprised if this team continues to crumble. Like Theo Epstein said: "It's hard to have an elite organization without excellent starting pitching."

Right now, the Sox have neither.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

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BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

1:00 - Shaughnesy, Drellich and Merloni give their leading off impressions regarding the Red Sox

4:00 - Dan Shaughnessy explains why he is still skeptical about the Red Sox team, and why he will not be able to feel confident until he sees them play in the postseason

9:00 - Does our Baseball Show crew have a problem with the Red Sox letting Chris Sale pitch the 8th inning so he could get his 300th strikeout?

15:00 - Jared Carrabis joins the Baseball Show crew to discuss what matches he likes for the Red Sox in the playoffs. 

17:00 - Jared Carrabis on how would the Red Sox match up against the Yankees in the playoffs

20:00 - How does Jared Carrabis think about the use of David Price as a relief pitcher?

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

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Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

CINCINNATI -- Mookie Betts wasn't about to stop. Neither are the Red Sox, who are heading home with a chance to win another division title.

Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it in the eighth inning and dashed home from second base on an infield single, rallying the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory Sunday that moved them closer to an AL East championship.

By winning 14 of its last 17 games, Boston has left virtually no opening for the second-place New York Yankees to catch up. The Red Sox, already assured a playoff spot, completed an 8-1 road trip that put them in excellent position to win a second consecutive division crown, something they've never done.

Coupled with New York's 9-5 loss in Toronto, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to three. They lead the Yankees by five games with seven to play.

That means Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston finishes the regular season at home with three games against Toronto and four vs. Houston.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves," said Doug Fister, who pitched into the sixth. "We can put ourselves in a corner early and fight back. If we need a touchdown, the boys can put up a touchdown."

Boston inched closer with more late-game flair. The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases against Raisel Iglesias (3-3), who had blown only one save chance all season. Betts had fouled a ball off his foot on Friday night and missed one game. His double tied it 5-all, and he sprinted home on the still-sore foot - diving headfirst into the plate - on Rafael Devers' infield single.

"I felt he had a chance to beat it, and with me running it was going to be a tough play at the plate," Betts said.

Robby Scott (2-1) got the win, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 39 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.

Billy Hamilton helped the Reds go up 4-1. He tripled home a run and brought the crowd to its feet by scoring after getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a wild throw, and Hamilton kept going when nobody covered home.

"In my whole career, that's one of the best ones, especially since I was in a rundown and just trying to get to second base and then I end up scoring," Hamilton said.

GOT THEIR BACKS

Red Sox and Reds players stood for the national anthem. Boston manager John Farrell said if any of his players decide to follow the example of other athletes and make a statement during the anthem, he'll support them. "We strive to create an environment that's inclusive," Farrell said. "We would have their back as an organization if that's the expression they chose. It's their constitutional right."

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Reds all-time in the regular season and have won nine straight, their longest winning streak against any NL team since interleague play started in 1997. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 16-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-15.

90 LOSSES AGAIN

The Reds reached the 90-loss mark for the third straight year. They lost 98 games in 2015 and 94 last year. It's the first time they've had three straight 90-loss seasons since 1930-34.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez ran the bases before the game, his next step in recovering from a sprained knee.

Reds: Hamilton was back in the lineup after getting a day off. He's played twice since returning from a broken left thumb.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) on Monday night. Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

Reds: After a day off, they finish with three games in Milwaukee and three at the Chicago Cubs. Deck McGuire (0-0) makes his first major league start Tuesday night against Zach Davies (17-9).

CSNNE SCHEDULE