August 31, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Daniel Bard (51) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching Progress Continues

Another Grapefruit League game, another 2-for-2 day for Jackie Bradley, Jr. and another long home run for Mike Napoli as the Red Sox crushed the Minnesota Twins today 12-5.  Napoli’s 3-run blast came in a five run fourth inning as the Sox improve to 7-6 in spring play and continue to look better every day. Dustin Pedroia had a 2-for-4 day with two RBI and two runs scored.

The other main takeaways from this one include three strong and spotless innings for Clay Buchholz who, so far this spring, has been a step behind some of the other starting pitchers.  Buchholz threw 38 pitches, 31 for strikes with four K’s and had two tidy eight pitch innings.

Mar 7, 2013; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This is extremely encouraging news as it cannot be stressed enough that Buchholz must be a big time pitcher this year if team success is to follow.

Daniel Bard also had a very good outing with an inning of work featuring him striking out the side in the sixth.  It was his first action this spring versus a major league lineup.  Allen Webster finished up with an impressive final three innings with five K’s.

The one negative was Joel Hanrahan, who got bombed in one-third of an inning as he gave up four hits and four earned runs.  But Hanrahan may have an excuse as, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Joel’s wife is scheduled to deliver their first child on Monday.  So let’s wait before we make any snap judgements.

It may seem obvious, but overall the pitching seems to be improving on a daily basis.  Key guys like Bard and Buchholz got themselves on the right track today and that is huge.

If the Sox can pitch this way coming into the start of the season they will gain enormous confidence out of the gate.  The result should be that they will set themselves up for a good season.  With John Farrell and Juan Nieves leading the way with their wealth of pitching knowledge, it has to make everyone feel good at this point in the spring.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz

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