ARLINGTON -- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski knows that his club's starting pitching needs to perform significantly better. But this doesn't mean he can simply snap his fingers and fix it with still more than a month to go before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
A 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Sunday dropped Boston four games out of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 12. After breaking out to a 29-17 start, the Sox are 12-17 over the past month.
"The thing you have to remember is that you have two clubs to make a deal, and most clubs, as I've said all along and it hasn't changed whatsoever, really are not prepared to move towards 2017 and be in a position where they're willing to move," said Dombrowski.
Clay Buchholz gave up seven hits and five runs (four earned) over 5 1/3 innings Sunday, and it's not a good sign that it was the best start the Sox had in this three-game series against the Rangers.
If not for a dramatic rally in the top of the ninth Friday night, Boston would have been swept. Over the three games, starters David Price, Steven Wright and Buchholz combined to go 12 1/3 innings while allowing 26 hits and 13 earned runs.
"We're scuffling right now," said Dombrowski. "It's just the way it is. We're not pitching very well, but we're not playing very well overall. We need to snap out of it."
Earlier in the season, the Red Sox could mask some of their inconsistent pitching with a relentless offense. But with three left fielders on the disabled list and David Ortiz needing to rest his ailing feet more often, the bats haven't been quite as potent of late.
"The depth of our lineup, that doesn't help," Dombrowski said. "So you only have so many players in the organization who are capable of helping the big league club at a particular time. The problem you run into is that some of those players are anticipated to be back relatively soon, so you can't go out and make a trade for some positional player and give up one of your top prospects that somebody asks for a two-week, or a week, type of situation."
The best thing the Red Sox can do for now is improve their performance from within.
Price had run off eight quality starts in a row before Friday's pasting. Wright's start Saturday was only one of two bad ones he's had all year. Rick Porcello has been solid for the most part in the three-hole.
The problem is the final two spots. Buchholz has already been removed from the rotation once and has been less than inspiring in the two starts since he's been back.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who opens a three-game series on Monday night against the slumping Rays, hasn't looked the same as he did last year since coming off the disabled list. There isn't much in the way of candidates at Triple-A. Henry Owens and Roenis Elias have already struggled when given the chance with Boston this season. A third lefty prospect -- Brian Johnson -- remains on leave with anxiety.
"As a whole we have to continue to get better," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "My view of it is I only look internally. I don't look externally. That's not for me. I don't mean to be short with your answer, but my focus is on the guys here and what other internal options we may be looking to draw from. That is where the focus is."
Meanwhile, Dombrowski will continue with his process, knowing from years of experience that forcing the issue is seldom conducive to making the right deal.
"It's still early," Dombrowski said. "I can tell you I've done a great deal of work and there's five clubs that are willing to talk about it, and it's the same five clubs who have been at it all year. So it's still a little early for that type of situation. We'll see what happens."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.