The unpredictable Clay Buchholz took the mound at Fenway on Wednesday night for game three of a four-game series with the Angels, and his start nicely summed up the season he’s had so far. He eased his way through three innings with wonderful “stuff” and location, only to falter the following couple of innings, becoming visibly discouraged at times, before falling apart.
The same could be said for the Red Sox offense – they looked on top of their game for the first few innings before struggling to get anything going. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz both singled in the first inning, allowing Yoenis Cespedes to knock in Pedroia with a sacrifice fly. Boston added a couple more hits in the second, and David Ross drove in Kelly Johnson to take a 2-0 lead. David Ortiz led off the third inning with his 30th home run of the year. Ortiz was on fire all night, going 4-4 with that big homer. They would not score again. Although the Red Sox would scatter some hits here and there, they couldn’t get anything going after the third.
Buchholz allowed only one hit through three, with three strikeouts and no walks. His final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 B, 5 K on 97 pitches. That is called an implosion! There was a noticeable difference to Clay’s approach in the fourth inning when he met the meat of the Angels order and they got some serious wood on some pitches. Both Trout and Pujols had “loud” outs to the outfield, followed by a double by Josh Hamilton (2-3, three RBI) and a Howie Kendrick RBI single. Even the final out saw David Freese hit a hard shot to Betts in centerfield.
The fifth inning, however, was the one that featured the Clay Buchholz meltdown we’ve become all too familiar with, and it came against the bottom of the order. Let me list it out for you: Erick Aybar singled, Chris Iannetta walked on a full count, Efren Navarro singled, Kole Calhoun walked on a full count bringing in Aybar – and the boos begin to rain down, Trout hit a routine pop-up that Nava and Pedroia can’t communicate on allowing it to drop and another run to score, Pujols hit an RBI single, Josh Hamilton hit an RBI sac fly, Howie Kendrick with an RBI single then added a stolen base (why not?), before mercifully, Freese grounded out to stop the bleeding.
The fifth inning took the steam out of the Sox, and it left its mark both in the field and at the plate. Pedroia looked lost at times, striking out twice and not looking like himself defensively. Nava misplayed the ball a couple times, and missed the cutoff man (Tom Hanks would not be pleased). Mookie Betts, on the other hand, did play quite well in the field, displaying some awesome athleticism at times.
LA was forced to piece things together in the pitching department Wednesday night after starter Garrett Richards left in the second inning with a left knee injury. He’ll get an MRI tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. Cory Rasmus would come in and collect the win, but five other pitchers were used, each for an inning and together didn’t allow a single run.
The Angels would add a couple runs in later innings against Sox relievers Burke Badenhop and Craig Breslow to finish off the Red Sox by the final of 8-3. The Red Sox will look to avoid the dreaded sweep at home tomorrow night when they send Rubby De La Rosa (4-4, 3.79) to the rubber to meet LA’s Matt Shoemaker (11-4, 3.84).