By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Kyle Weiland, the Red Sox rookie right-hander who had just 19 major-league innings heading into game one of Mondays doubleheader against the lowly Orioles, was giventhe unenviable task of being asked to do what veteran starting pitchers have been unable to do: Stop the September bleeding.
But like most of the other Sox pitchers this month, Weiland was unable to put a stop to the September collapse the Sox are in. After falling, 6-5, to the Os who entered the game with the second-worst record in the American League and third-worst overall the Sox are now just 4-14 this month. In their last 15 games they have suffered six one-run losses.
Their once comfortable lead over the Rays for the wild card is down to just 1 games. The Sox entered September with an AL-best record of 83-52 and a 1 -game lead over the Yankees. They now trail New York, who beat the Twins Monday afternoon, by 5 games for the division lead.
In 18 games this month, starting pitchers have gone just 86 innings, averaging less than five innings a game. They have given up 68 runs (61 earned) on 100 hits and 43 walks with 75 strikeouts and 13 home runs. The starters have posted a combined 6.38 ERA while pitching just three quality starts.
Weiland, who was returning to the mound on short rest after throwing 61 pitches in Thursdays loss to the Rays, took the loss, dropping his record to 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA. He went 4 23 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The three home runs he gave up were one shy of the Orioles single-game high this season. He left with the Sox trailing, 6-2.
Weiland went through the first seven batters in the Orioles lineup smoothly with four strikeouts, not allowing a runner on base. But when left fielder Darnell McDonald lost two consecutive fly balls in the sun, the game quickly unraveled for Weiland.
Kyle started out really keeping his pitches down, with movement, missing some bats, manager Terry Francona said. Then the second time through the order we didnt help him because we lost a ball, then Mac couldnt catch the second one. Then he got up with too many pitches, fastball, breaking ball. Couple of them left the park.
So its kind of a different once through the order than the second time through the order.
Weiland said the two balls lost in the sun, putting runners on second and third with one out, did not cause him to lose focus.
No,he said. Thats stuff that I kind of expect in the game of baseball. Some things are going to go your way, some things arent. You cant help that the sun is right behind home plate, and obviously both sides are having trouble with it. So you cant think about that stuff. Its my job to go back out there when stuff like that happens and pick up my teammates because nine times out of 10 theyre going to pick me up more than Im going to pick them up. So its definitely something that pitchers try to really step up when stuff like that happens topick up guys because theyre saving us all the time.
But the loss the Sox first to the Os at Fenway this season -- can hardly be blamed on Weiland
Darnell McDonald was in left field, a late addition because Carl Crawford was scratched shortly before game time with a stiff neck. He had the unfortunate luck of trying to field the two balls in the sun. The first, a Nolan Reimold drive was ruled a hit, despite falling out of McDonalds glove. The next batter, Josh Bell, was given a two-base error. Both runners eventually scored in the inning, giving the Os a 2-0 lead.
The first one was a tough sun, McDonald said. I lost it in the sun. I saw it off the bat and after that I didnt see it. The second one I got there and took my eye off it at the last minute and didn't make the play. Its a situation where I feel terrible putting my team in the hole like that. But you got to bounce back and play the game. It was a tough day for me. It was terrible out there today. Youre paid to play baseball. I was ready. It was just one of them days whereI didnt make the plays.
McDonald led off the bottom of the third with a home run, his sixth of the season, cutting the Sox deficit in half. But the bats could not get the job done today. The batters, despite 12 hits in the game, were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Sox had an opportunity to add another run in their two-run fifth when David Ortizs drive down the right field line appeared to be fair but was ruled foul. When Ortiz eventually flied out to center, Dustin Pedroia was stranded on third base, his third triple of the season.
Very frustrating, Ortiz said. Nothing we can do but come back the second game and try to hit the ball fair. Its a mistake that happened. You got to deal with it.
I guess the reason why we have umpires down the line is so they can read the ball better because from distance sometimes it gives you some trouble and . . . that reviewing thing I think it was good for home runs and things like that. But I guess a situation like what happened today you should give it a shot because were trying to win a baseball game and its not the right call.
But there was plenty of blame to go around.
We need to pitch better, we need to hit better, we need to play better D, Pedroia said. We need to do everything better, so when youre losing you can point fingers at everybody. We just got to go out there and play hard and play winning baseball. We do that, theres not a team in the world that can beat us. So we got to play better.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.