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Closing Time: Dustin Pedroia reaches milestone, Clay Buchholz dominates as Red Sox thrash A’s

05.02.14 at 10:49 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia hit a grand slam for his first homer of 2014 and 100th of his career. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia hit a grand slam for his first homer of 2014 and 100th of his career. (AP)

After two frustrating losses on Thursday, the Red Sox offense bounced back in a big way on Friday night.

The Sox put seven runs on the board against the best pitching staff in the American League, tagging A’s pitcher for 11 hits, with five of those going for extra bases, en route to a 7-1 win. The Red Sox have now scored seven or more runs in four of their last seven games.

Dustin Pedroia delivered the loudest shot of the night with the bases loaded in the sixth, sending an 0-2 slider from reliever Ryan Cook just barely into the Monster Seats for the 100th home run of his career and his first of 2014. It was just the second grand slam of his career, with the other coming back on August 27, 2008, against the Yankees in New York. The second baseman also drove in the 500th run of his career with the blast, as well as tacking on three more to bring his total to 503.

The Sox offense was backed by Clay Buchholz‘s strongest performance of 2014, as the righty held an Oakland offense that ranked third in the American League in runs scored and OPS coming into play on Friday to just a lone run on three hits, striking out five and walking three (one intentionally) through 6 1/3 innings.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Buchholz turned in his second solid outing in a row after giving up three runs in seven innings against the Blue Jays in his previous start. His final line featured a season-low in runs (1) and hits (3) allowed, though he did walk three and unleash two wild pitches. The righty’s fastball sat in the 91-92 range, occasionally touching 93 or 94, and getting eight swinging strikes. Buchholz didn’t walk his first batter until the sixth inning when he issued a free pass to Josh Donaldson (he later doled out an intentional walk to Yoenis Cespedes in the same inning).

Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the Red Sox‘ second run of the evening with a double into the gap in left center, bringing A.J. Pierzynski in all the way from first. Of Bradley’s nine doubles on the season, seven of them have been hit towards center or left-center, highlighting his ability to impact the ball when he stays back and employs an all-fields approach. The outfielder has been especially productive with men on base, hitting .340 with eight doubles in 51 plate appearances. Bradley also walked twice on the night, bringing his total to 14 free passes in 100 plate appearances.

In addition to his impressive offensive performance, Bradley made a leaping catch with two runners on and one out in the eighth to rob Cespedes of what could have been extra bases, and then proceeded to deliver a strong throw to the cut-off man, allowing Pedroia to double-up Donaldson at first.

Andrew Miller was dominant in relief of Buchholz, punching out both Nick Punto and Coco Crisp (switch-hitters who were batting right-handed) with hellacious sliders. He’s struck out eight of the 29 right-handed hitters he’s faced this year (28 percent).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Will Middlebrooks was the only member of the Red Sox lineup without a hit, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He also ground into an inning-ending double play in the seventh.

– Though Pierzynski continues to heat up at the plate (he collected a pair of hits on Friday), he’s looked a little stiff on defense. A wild pitch from Buchholz allowed John Jaso to score the only run that the A’s could muster, but the pitch appeared to have been one that is typically blocked, even though it did bounce. Pierzynski has been behind the plate for two passed balls and 12 wild pitches this year.

– The A’s managed to get two runners on base in the fifth thanks to some shaky defense from the Red Sox. Buchholz misplayed a soft grounder that was hit near the mound, allowing Alberto Callaspo to reach (it would be counted as an error) while Middlebrooks couldn’t get a handle on a ground ball hit to his right while in a shift (it’s doubtful Middlebrooks would have been able to get the runner at first, though). Buchholz escaped the inning unscathed, however.

Edward Mujica continues to look like a pitcher who is either injured or still trying to build arm strength. Just one of his 17 pitches exceeded 90 mph. He gave up four rockets in an inning of work, with two singles, a lineout to first and Cespedes’ blast to center that required a spectacular catch by Bradley.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, jackie bradley jr.,
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