The dust has settled on the first month of the season, and with it, the Red Sox offense has emerged once again as a force.
The Athletics entered the night with a 3.11 ERA, having allowed just 16 homers, second fewest in the American League. But the Red Sox jumped on the A’s and starter Tom Milone for eight runs (seven earned) and three homers in 4 2/3 innings, setting in motion an 11-6 victory. With their fourth double-digit run total in the last seven games, the Sox are now averaging 5.77 runs a game this season, most in the majors.
The team has received a host of contributions from places both unexpected and expected that have offset the absences of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. That theme continued on Monday, as the offensive damage was done by David Ortiz, Mike Aviles, Darnell McDonald and Marlon Byrd, on a night when the Sox were not only without Ellsbury and Crawford but also Ryan Sweeney (on the bench against a left-handed starter) and Kevin Youkilis (scratched late due to his back).
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR A WHILE AND THEN VERY WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— For a while, it looked like precisely what the Red Sox needed from Clay Buchholz. Though the A’s are hardly a good barometer for a pitcher — they entered the night with 2.91 runs per game, easily the lowest mark in the AL, while the team’s .597 OPS ranked dead last in the majors (worse, even, than NL teams for whom the pitcher must hit) — for six innings, it was still a far better version of Buchholz than the Sox had seen at any point in 2012.
Buchholz was able to get groundballs and swing and misses with his most diverse pitching array of the year, as he seemed comfortable incorporating his fastball, cutter, change and curve. Through six innings, he allowed just one run on four hits, striking out five and walking three.
And then came the seventh inning. Back on the mound with a pitch count in the low-80s, Buchholz saw his night unravel. He allowed five runs on two walks and three hits (a pair of groundball singles and a three-run homer by Josh Reddick, who golfed a curveball into the bullpen) and was unable to get out of the inning, as manager Bobby Valentine lifted the right-hander after Reddick’s homer with two outs.
And so, what could have been a very strong outing was instead relegated to the status of merely adequate. Buchholz got the win and, thanks to the best run support in the majors, he improved to 3-1 while his ERA dropped ever so slightly from 8.87 to 8.69, but the pitcher’s frustration became evident when he shouted a profanity when Valentine came out of the dugout to pull him and sprinted straight from the mound into the clubhouse. (more…)