As has been the case all too often this season, Clay Buchholz was the tough luck loser tonight. Buchholz turned in his fourth consecutive quality start against the Twins tonight, but the continued ineptitude of the lineup hurt Buchholz and the Red Sox again in a 2-1 loss.
While Buchholz would ultimately turn in a very strong outing for the Red Sox, his portrait was not always so rosy in this game. Buchholz did not show any semblance of control over his repertoire in the first inning, throwing 9 of his first 14 pitches for balls. The Twins also displayed the ability to make solid contact in that first inning, connecting for three doubles and two runs off Buchholz.
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From then on, Buchholz was totally dominant, though. After the first inning, Buchholz lasted until the eighth and allowed no runs on four hits and no walks. Buchholz was able to lower his ERA to a respectable 4.33, but after another empty outing from the offense, his record slipped to 2-6 on the season.
After Buchholz’s rocky first inning, the Red Sox were able to fight back in the second inning. David Ortiz was able to drive a Mike Pelfrey fastball off the wall in left field, taking advantage of a misplay by Eduardo Escobar in left field and coasting into second with a double. Ortiz came in to score after Mike Napoli muscled a bloop single into left-center field, cutting Minnesota’s lead to 2-1.
After the top of the second, this game transformed into the ultimate pitchers’ duel, with Buchholz and Pelfrey each turning in masterful outings. The two right-handers essentially matched each other pitch for pitch until the eighth inning, when Twins manager Paul Molitor pulled Pelfrey in favor of Blaine Boyer.
Boyer recorded a pair of quick outs to start the eighth, but the Red Sox would put together a two-out rally and their best chance of the night to push some runs across. Dustin Pedroia singled up the middle with two outs and Mookie Betts drew a walk, chasing Boyer from the game as closer Glen Perkins entered to pitch to Pablo Sandoval.
Normally a switch-hitter, Sandoval opted to bat from the left side against the southpaw and he very nearly tied the game. Though he hardly hit a rocket, Sandoval appeared to have placed his soft grounder well enough to reach the outfield grass and score Pedroia from second. However, a beautiful sliding stop by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier kept Pedroia at third, loading the bases for Hanley Ramirez. But while Ramirez gave the ball a ride, his hard liner found the glove of right fielder Eddie Rosario and the Twins escaped the inning unscathed.
The Red Sox went down quietly in the ninth inning, going 1-2-3 against Perkins to close out the game. This will go down as another tough loss brought about by Boston’s inexplicable offensive failures this season and the Red Sox will look to salvage the series tomorrow, sending Rick Porcello (4-3, 5.07 ERA) against Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.50 ERA).
- Clay Buchholz has looked every part of the ace in his last four starts, sporting a 2.48 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have been unable to support the lanky righty and Buchholz is just 1-2 in that span. The Red Sox will need him to continue his strong performances on the mound, while giving him support on the offensive side.
- Mike Napoli’s hot streak continued today as he reached base twice, including driving in Boston’s only run of the game.
- Sandy Leon had an unexpectedly competent night at the plate, going 2-3 with a pair of hard line drive singles and an impressive eight-pitch at bat in the third inning.
Buchholz had a tough first inning and it would ultimately cost him the game, but that’s more on the offense than it is on Buchholz. After all, the 30-year old was dominant after the first inning and coasted through 7.1 innings tonight against the Twins. The strikeouts weren’t there for Buchholz as they often have been this season, but that’s easy to ignore in an unarguably solid start.
As the only relief pitcher in this game, it’s no wonder that the game ball here belongs to Ogando. He didn’t have a ton of action, but he recorded a pair of easy outs in the eighth inning as Farrell and the Red Sox continue to trust the hard-throwing righty in high-leverage situations.
This wasn’t much of an offensive day for the Red Sox, but Napoli stands out as the major contributor at the plate. He drove in Boston’s only run of the game on a bloop single and also drew a walk, reaching base at least twice for the fifth consecutive game.