Early on last night in Arlington, TX, it looked like John Smoltz was going to shutdown the Texas Rangers. Then they erupted for five runs in the 6th inning off of the 42-year-old Boston Red Sox pitcher on their way to a 6-3 win.

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Smoltz yells after he gave up a solo home run to Texas Rangers' Michael Young in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Monday, July 20, 2009.  (AP Photo/LM Otero)Last night’s outing for Smoltz was going to really tell us what the Red Sox needed to do at the trade deadline. And now it leaves us some big questions as what to do with Brad Penny and Smoltz.

Essentially right now the Red Sox have three starting pitchers that they can count on every five days in Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield. You can’t count on Daisuke Matsuzaka to be of any help this season. Then of course there is the Clay Buchholz factor.

Buchholz was solid in his only start of the season last weekend in Toronto for the Red Sox and that brought up questions of whether or not he should remain with the team for the season. After watching Smoltz last night and Penny struggle Saturday, I think it’s time for the Red Sox to move Clay back to the rotation and get rid of Penny.

Don’t get me wrong, Smoltz can still be very helpful to this team whether he remains as a starter or moves to the bullpen. On the other hand, I don’t think Penny would be very effective out of the bullpen for the Red Sox. Smoltz has that experience should the Red Sox decide to go that route. Plus Smoltz’ knowledge of the game and what he can bring to the younger pitchers is always useful.

So now we’ll wait to see what the Theo Epstein, Terry Francona and the rest of the Red Sox brain trust decides to do. But they can’t really wait too long as their rivals to the south are playing good baseball and could be in contention for some of the same players as the local nine at the trade deadline.

Smoltz, Red Sox wilt against Texas heat [Boston Globe]

Smoltz hammered for three homers in the sixth [Providence Journal]

John Smoltz in deep trouble [Boston Herald]

Smoltz slipped, then fell [Boston Globe]

Post-All-Star slumber continues for Red Sox offense [Providence Journal]

In search of hot bats [Boston Herald]

Hunter to be the hunted [Boston Globe]

Red Sox journal: Life at top of the order doesn’t agree with Drew [Providence Journal]

Jacoby Ellsbury retakes lead [Boston Herald]

Lugo a Met? Not Just Yet… [Full Count]

A Decade Later, Draft Rivals Beckett and Hamilton Share a Bond [Alex Speier – WEEI.com]

John Smoltz close, but so far away [Boston Herald]

Tuesday Quickie: Multiple Enemy Missile Launches Reported In 6th Inning [Nuggetpalooza]

Sox’s cold bats need to turn hot quickly [Redsox.com]

Five Things We Didn’t Learn: Problems Not Solved For Red Sox [Rob Bradford – WEEI.com]

For more slices of Boston Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Providence Journal websites.

And if the enemy papers are more your flavor, you can check out the Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star-Telegram websites.