In the opener of the four-game series, the Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz put the crowd, the Toronto Blue Jays’ high-octane offence, and the doubters out of his mind. At least it seemed that way, as he held the Jays to a single run.
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In front of over 27 000 people at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, the fans watched Buchholz’s counterpart, Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey have a decent day of his own on the mound. Fortunately for Red Sox Nation, it was not as good as Clay’s.
First blood came from the kids from Boston. In the top of the third inning, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts hit a line drive to right field for a double, scoring both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.
The top of the fifth inning was much of the same from those pesky kids. Infamous utility player Brock Holt hit a soft fly to left field, cashing in Betts once again.
The bottom of the sixth was the only time the Jays responded. Third baseman Josh Donaldson made another bid for the All-Star game by doubling to left field, scoring Devon Travis.
This game was all about the pitching. Buchholz went 8.0 innings, allowing a single run on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts. Dickey went 6.0 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, three walks, and three strikeouts. The bullpen for both teams went without giving up a run. Only Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil gave up a hit, but also struck out two opposing batters.
The game ended 3-1 in favour of the Red Sox, with Koji Uehara earning his 17th save of the season. Not bad for a 40-year-old whom so-called experts said was washed up, last season.
- Red Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza went 3-for-4 at the plate, but nobody could hit him home.
- Buchholz kept both of Toronto’s big-hitting veterans Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion off of the hit list.
- Betts went 2-for-4 and crossed the plate twice like a good lead off man should.
- Red Sox veterans David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval, and Mike Napoli went hitless. With Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia out of the lineup with injury, that may be a huge problem if the trend continues.
- The Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. The Blue Jays went 1-for-3 with RISP and left only two men on base.
Buchholz threw only 96 pitches, 68 for strikes, and earned eight grounded outs. Without a run or the seven flyouts, Buchholz would have looked completely dominating. However, he did the job that everyone has asked of him, and did it without a huge pitch count. The majority of his pitches were strikes, and happened on a day that another good pitcher was on his game, too. Being able to dominate against other good pitchers is what is expected of an ace. Let’s hope his sixth win of the season will not be the last.
It only took Koji 11 pitches, eight for strikes, to put away the Blue Jays in the ninth inning. What else is there to say but perfection?
Not exactly perfection against a knuckleball pitcher. Yes, Dickey is a former Cy Young Award winner, but the Red Sox need to do better with putting balls in play with pitches coming at them so slowly. At least they put 10 into the ground for outs, with no flyouts.
Betts did his job to get on base and get cashed in. Bogaerts and Holt did their jobs by hitting Betts in, but they were not as consistent as Betts last night. The big story is the lack of veteran impact for the Red Sox. No Han-Ram. No Pedroia. While those two players are out, the others need a plan or else they better not plan on the post-season… or even being with the club for very long.