Series Recap: Red Sox Starting Pitching Finally Breaks Through
The Red Sox desperately needed to get things going, especially at home and after the opener of a four-game set that saw Josh Beckett booed mercifully, the outlook didn’t appear to be very promising.
But then the Red Sox young starters took the mound and saved the series giving the Sox three victories out of four and are now riding a modest three game winning streak.
Who knew that a fresh haircut would mean a fresh start for Clay Buchholz. That is exactly what happened when Buchholz battled through 6.1 innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen with the bases loaded in the seventh. Even though Rich Hill couldn’t do much in this outing and Buchholz would be pegged for three more runs, four in total, it was the first time this season that Buchholz kept the opponents below five runs for the game. He scattered 8 hits, walked 3 and didn’t strike out a batter so there are still some control issues that need to improve before it’s safe to say he’s out of the woods in what has been a horrific start to the season. But this is a start and it was a good one. He may have once again fell victim to the slow hook of manager Bobby Valentine with debate over whether Buchholz should have been lifted one, maybe two batters sooner.
Regardless, Buchholz battled like the warrior we saw in the first half of last season and it was that type of gutsy effort that may have saved his rotation spot. It would have been easy for Buchholz to unravel when the Indians already had one run in during the first inning and the bases reloaded. But the freshly groomed righty battled through the adversity and got out of the inning unscathed proving he can still battle like a warrior.
Saturday saw Felix Doubront throw an absolute gem en route to picking up his third win of the season. The southpaw went 6.0 innings while giving up just 3 hits, 1 ER, 2BB and 5 SO. Yes, he was that good bringing optimism to Red Sox Nation that maybe he is a guy we can rely on every fifth day.
With Daisuke Matsuzaka likely to join the big club in two weeks, Doubront’s name has been mentioned as a possibility to head to the bullpen. After a spectacular outing and a promising horizon, the lefty, like Buchholz has bought himself more time as a starter.
When Sunday afternoon rolled around it was Daniel Bard‘s turn to try and stretch the Sox winning streak to three games. He did not disappoint. He too would go 6.0 innings of work, scattering 6 hits and only allowing 1 earned run. He did walk 4 and struck out 2 and while the base on balls continue to haunt Bard, this was a very promising outing. Sure he was the beneficiary of some high powered offense, namely Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but we’ve seen it earlier this year when Bard exploded to give up a crooked number making the game much closer than it needed to be. Not on this day and what’s even more impressive is he did it without his fastball.
A story on the Boston Herald website from Scott Lauber reports that Bard told catcher Saltalamacchia in the third inning that he preferred to throw his offspeed stuff due to the lack of command with his heater. Talk about a promising sign from a young pitcher trying to find his ways as a starter. It was a gutsy and mature move by Bard, a pitcher who has been known to rely on his fastball in all occasions. He pitched himself into some jams during the game in the third and fourth innings but managed to battle through them with very little damage to show.
In other words, Bard battled like a warrior. In fact you could say that Buchholz, Doubront and Bard all battled like warriors over the past three days making beer gate a distant memory, at least for now. When the Sox needed their starters to step up and deliver gutsy and effective outings, who would have thought it would be the 3,4 & 5 guys and not Jon Lester or Josh Beckett. Now if the veterans can learn something from their predecessors the Red Sox might be able to keep this winning thing going.
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