Closing Time: Orioles 9, Red Sox 1
|09.21.10 at 10:41 pm ET|
On June 26, Buchholz strained his left hamstring and missed three weeks of action. Still, in 26 starts this season, he posted 16 wins and an ERA of 2.48, second only to Felix Hernandez in the American League. But on Tuesday, we were reminded that Buchholz can’t help himself with the bat and he doesn’t play second base.
The Red Sox managed just one run off Baltimore righty Brad Bergesen, who came in with a 7-10 record and a 5.03 ERA. Then in the sixth inning, just one strike away from leaving with a 1-0 lead, Marco Scutaro dropped the third out, allowing the Orioles to tie the game.
Tuesday night was just another frustrating example of why managers and baseball people are always saying never judge a pitcher solely by his win total.
Buchholz actually LOWERED his ERA from 2.48 to 2.40 but watched as his teammates couldn’t manage more than one run against Brad Bergesen and lost 9-1 at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox saw their tragic number lowered to six. Any combination of Red Sox losses and Tampa Bay wins equalling six will keep Boston at home come playoffs for the first time since 2006 and for just the second time since 2002.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:
Marco Scutaro couldn’t read the tricky wind at 2nd. The veteran infielder must’ve felt like he was back in Oakland with the strange winds that were blowing around Fenway on Tuesday night. With a 3-2 count on Felix Pie and Buchholz just one strike away from heading to the bottom of the sixth, Pie popped up to short right field. Scutaro appeared to have a bead on it but then the ball seemed to drift back and Scutaro was late in making the adjustment. The ball clanged off his glove and onto the grass, allowing Adam Jones, who was going on the pitch, to score all the way from first and tie the game.
Scott Atchison put fuel on the fire. It’s a rule of thumb to expect a first-pitch fastball immediately after a visit by the pitching coach. Well Atchison mixed it up with Ty Wigginton by throwing him a first-pitch cutter at 85 MPH that didn’t do much more than spin. Wigginton wrapped it around the Pesky Pole in right for a three-run homer and a 4-1 Orioles’ lead in the seventh.
Nothing doing in Red Sox order. The top five batters in the order – Scutaro, Drew, Martinez, Ortiz and Beltre – went a collective 2-for-21, including key failures with men on base. And there was none bigger than the strike out taking by David Ortiz against lefty Michael Gonzalez as Buck Showalter managed the seventh inning like a man who wanted to show his team that he has no intention of suffering through a 90-loss in 2011.
Jonathan Papelbon had to get work in sometime. Too bad it was Tuesday night. The Orioles lit up the closer who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 14 at Seattle. Papelbon allowed four runs on five hits and now has an unseemly 3.92 ERA for a closer.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:
Clay Buchholz pitched like a Cy Young candidate. Obviously, Buchholz will not win the Cy Young vote with names like C.C. Sabathia and Felix Hernandez likely to garner most of the first-place votes. He allowed just four hits and one unearned run over six innings, walking three and striking out five. Until the wheels fell off with the Scutaro error, he figured to be the main storyline. He instead became a lonely afterthought.
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