Considering their recent 1-6 road trip, the Red Sox were looking to head in the right direction both offensively and defensively in this first game of a seven game homestand, and a run in which 12 of 15 games will be at home for the Red Sox. The story on this chilly night at Fenway was Clay Buchholz, who came in with just a 1.99 ERA over his last four starts, with an 0-1 record to show for it. Tonight he was superb, allowing the Twins only one baserunner to second base in a 1-0 Red Sox victory.
This was a game of very few scoring chances, all but one belonged to the home team. The Red Sox had their usual share of missed opportunities. In the second inning Pablo Sandoval drew a one out walk. Mike Napoli followed with a double to send Sandoval to third. The Twins brought the infield in with Xander Bogaerts batting which paid off as Bogaerts hit a grounder to shortstop who easily nabbed Sandoval who didn’t bother to slide into home. The light hitting Sandy Leon could not deliver either, hitting a soft fly ball to left for the final out of the inning. In the fifth inning, Bogaerts singled and stole second with one out. Leon flew out to left and Rusney Castillo grounded out to third to end the threat.
The sixth inning was the worst of the Red Sox squandered chances. Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts both singled to center field to set up a first and second no out situation for David Ortiz. The days when this situation is a prelude to a big inning are over. In fairness, Ortiz hit the ball sharply, but Twins second baseman Brian Dozier made a sprawling stop up the middle to start a double play. Hanley Ramirez hit the ball well also, but was also luckless as the ball was easily put away in left field to kill another rally.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Mike Pelfrey was excellent in his own right. After shutting down the Red Sox for six innings, it was a two out rally that finally got the Red Sox in the runs column. Bogaerts doubled to center field on a ball that may have been misjudged by Twins centerfielder Aaron Hicks who thought it would hit higher on the wall. The Red Sox got a rare break when Hicks played the ball off the wall. Up came Leon and his .182 batting average. Certainly, Red Sox Nation had to think that was the end of the rally. Incredibly, Pelfrey could not find the strike zone and Leon drew a walk to leave it up to $72 million man Castillo. With two strikes, Castillo knocked a grounder past shortstop into centerfield, scoring Bogaerts with the night’s only run.
While there were probably some fans, this one included, who thought Manager John Farrell should leave in Buchholz to finish the game. Though Koji Uehara was far from dominant, he got the job done for the save, after the blown one on Sunday in Texas. A 1-0 decision went to the Red Sox.
After such a terrible road trip, getting this homestand off to a winning start was essential. Buchholz (3.10 ERA over his last nine starts, 1.95 over his last five) was more than up to the task. Eight shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks and lowering his season ERA to 3.82. He has some work to do before he might be considered anything like an ace, but tonight was a great start to convince Red Sox Nation that when a win is sorely needed, Buchholz is up to the task.
Five baserunners over eight shutout innings is what you need to know about how good Buchholz was tonight. The Twins had exactly one plate appearance with a runner in scoring position after Hicks stole second with two outs in the fifth inning. Buchholz struck out the next batter to end that minor threat. Postgame, the Twitterverse learned that Buchholz was under the weather tonight, cementing Farrell’s decision to remove him after eight shutout innings and only 92 pitches.
It couldn’t have been more clutch, considering the Red Sox fortunes of late. The offense didn’t step up tonight, but Buchholz sure did.
Koji was not his usual dominant self, allowing a baserunner via his sixth walk of the year (9 is his Red Sox season high). Two balls were hit sharply. Honestly, we are spoiled by his dominance for the most part. The job was done with little drama for a crucial victory.
They had four chances out of eight innings and managed to cash one of them in. Certainly, nothing to write home about. Seven hits for a team is not an offensive explosion. One for seven with Runners in Scoring Position won’t get it done most nights, but tonight it was good enough. Bogaerts gets the award for the double that started the one successful rally of the night. He was in the middle of another rally, singling and stealing a base. He seems to be heating up after three hits on Sunday, as well.