The struggling Red Sox wrapped up their home and home interleague series with the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta on Thursday night. It was a battle of Texas natives as Clay Buchholz (3-6, 4.22) took the mound against the Braves best starter (and best man at Red Sox starter, and former Cardinals teammate, Joe Kelly‘s wedding) Shelby Miller (5-2, 2.02). Behind Buchholz’ mastery and two out hitting, the Red Sox won 5-2.
Brock Holt got the Red Sox on the board in the top of the fourth, with a booming triple off the center field wall. Holt was the first Red Sox to reach base against Miller. Mookie Betts could not get Holt in, but David Ortiz managed a high hopper with the infield in that scored Holt who was going on contact, to make the score 1-0.
In the sixth, Holt singled to start another rally. Betts took advantage of a second chance given by Braves third baseman Juan Uribe‘s drop of a routine foul pop-up, to single as well. Ortiz followed with another single to right to load the bases.Hanley Ramirez grounded into a routine 6-4-3 double play to make the score 2-0 and seemingly squelch the Red Sox uprising. Xander Bogaerts did not let Miller take a breath, lining the first pitch he saw to right field, to push the lead to 3-0. Alejandro De Aza bounced a double over the first baseman’s head down the right field line. Bogaerts sped around to score all the way from first to push the score to 4-0.
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In a turn of events that typifies the Red Sox season, the Braves rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth while hitting one ball out of the infield. With two outs and a man at first, Nick Markakis drew a walk. With two strikes on him, Uribe hit a high chopper that Buchholz could do nothing with, loading the bases. Our old friend A.J. Pierzynski hit a liner that Buchholz knocked down toward first base. Instead of just picking the ball out of his glove to toss over to Ortiz to retire the slow-footed Pierzynski, Buchholz tried to shovel the ball over with his glove. Eliciting a groan similar to falling down a flight of stairs from this writer, the ball sailed over Ortiz’ head, allowing two runs to score. The shut-down inning became the let-down inning once again. Buchholz managed to escape further damage.
In the seventh, Holt was once again in the middle of the rally. With two outs, he drew a walk, after being down 0-2 in the count. Betts followed with a gapper to left-center that scored Holt all the way from first, to increase the lead to 5-2. Tommy Layne worked around a leadoff walk to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. Koji Uehara struck out the last two batters to close out the game and Red Sox victory, 5-2.
- Travis Shaw started his first career major league game at third base, for Pablo Sandoval, who was out of the lineup due to his adventures on Instagram during last night’s game. Shaw went hitless in four at-bats. He is still looking for his first big league hit.
- Buchholz has struck out 84 batters in 86 innings this season. The 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings rate is the highest of his career.
- De Aza is four for eight in his last two starts with two doubles, a triple and four runs batted in. He also stole his first base in a Boston uniform tonight.
- Sandy Leon has started every one of Buchholz’ ten starts since Ryan Hanigan was injured on May 1. Buchholz has a 2.96 ERA in those 67 innings.
Buchholz was in control from the outset, allowing zero earned runs, on six hits, walking one and striking out three. He lowered his season ERA to 3.87. This is Buchholz sixth start this year in which he has induced at least ten ground ball outs (12, tonight). His ERA in those six starts is 1.93 (9 ER in 42 IP).
Though the team may have to manage his playing time more closely in the dog days of summer, the Red Sox are riding HoltMania for all it is worth. The super-utility man has started the last 13 games, batting .382 over that time. He was in the middle of all three rallies tonight, scoring three times. Holt’s slash line for June is .373/.467/.549.
Both Layne and Uehara were never in trouble, allowing only one baserunner between them. Koji gets the nod for his perfect ninth and two strikeouts to end the game.