Clay Buchholz continued his string of exceptional pitching performances with a 6-1 mow down of the Houston Astros at celebratory Fenway Park. The Red Sox offense may not rival the display at the esplanade, but it was more than enough for Buchholz as fellow “killer B’s” – Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts supplied the necessary runs.
Lindsey Buchholz, wife of Clay, and her daughters were part of the group hanging K signs in left field and it was an arduous workout – quite aerobic – as Buchholz was ringing them up with eight K’s.
An economical first inning for Red Sox starter Buchholz with a quick three up and three down on nine pitches. Buchholz had a June in which he went 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA and July is starting off without missing a pitching beat.
The Red Sox wasted no time touching up Houston starter right-hander Collin McHugh in the first inning. Betts (3 RBI) walked and Brock Holt followed with a single setting up a run scoring single by Bogaerts (2 RBI). A quick visit from pitching Coach Brent Strom for a father-son pitching discussion settled McHugh down and David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval went down. Sox up 1-0.
In the second inning Luis Valbuena started it with a double, but this was not the Buchholz of April (5.76 ERA) – a ground out and two strike outs. Runner languishes on third.
The Red Sox second was a welcome back for Shane Victorino with a single. On a hit and run Sandy Leon smacked a line shot to right for a hit as Victorino scampered to third. The good news is Victorino did not pop a hamstring and the better news is Betts brought him home on a sac fly to left and a 2-0 lead.
The Red Sox fifth started with a generous two base error by Houston catcher Hank Conger. Holt, beneficiary of the largess, took a relaxing stroll home on a Bogaerts double to left. McHugh settled down and impressively retired the next three Bostonian’s to hold it to a 3-0 Houston deficit.
The sixth inning provided some interesting antics by the Houston offense: They got a hit and no one struck out. Buchholz did toss a wild pitch, but was in full cruise control with 69 pitches good for 53 strikes on the stat line for six.
The last part of the sixth the Red Sox got back to run scoring action. Leon banged his second single of the day (no typo) and came steaming home on a Betts double into the left field corner. That was it for McHugh who grabbed loss number four for his 5.1 inning effort.
Enter Roberto Hernandez, winner of Friday night’s game, and his alter ego – Fausto Carmona – to escape further damage thanks to a sharp line out to first by Ortiz.
Mookie time again in the eighth. Back to back singles by Victorino and Leon set-up a Betts blast to one hop the center field fence for the fifth Sox run. Two doubles and three RBI on the day for Mookie. The Red Sox were not done as up stepped Alejandro De Aza, who had replaced Ramirez defensively, with the bases jammed. Hernandez played expensive statuary on a ground ball to first and De Aza, hustling as usual, had a hit and an RBI as Hernandez simple did not cover first. That gives Buchholz a 6-0 cushion.
In the ninth Buchholz lost his shutout on a two out single to left by Valbuena that plated defending batting champion Jose Altuve. Buchholz got the last man standing for the Red Sox win and first Red Sox complete game of the season and jumps his record to 7-6.
The Red Sox and Astros conclude their three game series on Sunday at 1:30 with a showdown between young pitchers. For Houston a 21-year-old righthander, Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.19), and for Boston Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.92).
Game Notes and miscellaneous items.
* Sandoval a nice play on a pop-up that just missed Pablo taking out an entire dugout.
* Buchholz’ wife and daughters were hanging K signs during the game.
* The Red Sox (.277) had second highest league batting average for June.
* The Red Sox pitchers (3.8) had second highest league WAR for June.
* Satchel Paige pitches a no-hitter against the Homestead Grays on 7/4 in 1934.
* In his first start as an Astro Nolan Ryan hit his first career home run.
* In 1995 Craig Biggio hits two home runs on July 4th.
* The Astros have the highest K% in the AL at 25%. The Red Sox have second lowest at 17%.
* Jeff Bagwell (remember him?) holds the Astros career home run record at 449.
* Mets and Braves go 19 innings as Mets win 16-13. Longest July 4th contest.
* Red Sox hit seven home runs against Yankees on 4th in 2004.
* Red Sox hit eight home runs on 4th against Jays in 1977. End nine game losing streak.
* Babe Ruth was 17-5 pitching against the Yankees.
The Astros are third in the AL in batting average and first in home runs. The ‘Stros can bash. They also lead the league in strike out percentage so expect some high numbers. Buchholz tossed three wild pitches yet didn’t walk a batter while fanning eight. Buchholz tossed 110 pitches good for 80 strikes and allowed six hits. The shutout went by the boards thanks to “Offensive Indifference.”
is from my old hometown and is also the bullpen coach. I’m sure he kept everyone in the ‘pen loose and ready for action. A big A+ for Dana LeVangie!
Betts and Bogaerts supplied five of the six the runs. The Red Sox just chipped away with single runs in four different frames. Two hits for a returning Victorino and three for light hitting Leon. RISP 4 for 15. LOB at nine.
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