Closing Time: Clay Buchholz dominant again, this time leading Red Sox past Blue Jays
|05.01.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
TORONTO ‘ Clay Buchholz continues to take his game to new levels.
The Red Sox starter managed yet another standout performance, this time allowing just two hits and no runs, striking out eight and walking three in leading his team to a 10-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
With the win, the righty became the first six-game winner in the majors while lowering his ERA to 1.01. Buchholz has the best ERA through the first six starts for a Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1991 (0.73).
Buchholz, who has allowed a total of five earned runs in his six starts, also continued his domination at the home of the Jays. In 10 career starts at Rogers Centre, the righty has an ERA of 1.49, having led his team to wins in the pitcher’s last eight appearances in the venue.
“Just very consistent,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding Buchholz, who becomes the first Sox starter since Josh Beckett to win his first six starts of the season. (Beckett won the first seven in 2007.) “Very poised on the mound. The maturity as we’ve talked about on a couple of occasions, continues to I think play out in those situations, where he’s got to make a pitch with men on base. Once again, it was the case here tonight. Wasn’t really challenged as he’s been in other games. And that’s not to take anything away from the Blue Jays, he was just in that kind of command from the get-go.”
Offensively, Mike Napoli led the charge with the 11th multi-home run game of his career, hitting a solo shot to center in the fourth and a three-run job in the seventh. The second homer came on a 3-0 count, the fifth time in his career he has gone deep in such a situation. The first blast was measured at 472 feet, while the second came in at 467 feet. Both out-distanced Napoli’s previous best of 460, hit earlier this season in Rogers Centre.
“It wouldn’t matter to me, if it goes right over the fence, it’s just the same thing to me,” Napoli said. “It doesn’t matter to me, but I thought the second one went farther.”
Napoli and Stephen Drew both finished with three hits apiece, leading a 15-hit attack by the Sox.
Capping the scoring for the Red Sox was Mike Carp’s solo, pinch-hit home run int he ninth inning. The blast remarkably gave the first baseman/outfielder 12 hits for the season, nine of which have gone for extra-bases.
“You go in there and you’re in Big Papi’s spot, so you better do some damage,” said Carp, who was batting for David Ortz.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ 19th win of the season:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Drew got the scoring going with a two-run homer, his first as a member of the Red Sox. The second-inning blast, which sailed into the second deck, scored Will Middlebrooks, who had been hit by a Buerhle pitch. Drew came into the game with one hit in 14 at-bats against left-handed pitching. The Red Sox are now 13-0 when scoring first.
“I think the one thing that we’ve seen, we have to remember that probably on the homestand, compared to everyone else, was just about the end of spring training for him,” Farrell said of Drew. “We’re seeing the timing become more consistent. Right-handed and left-handed, he’s still putting good ABs up and he’s seeing the ball much better and he gives that bottom third of our order added depth and certainly a lift.
– Napoli’s first homer ‘ which helped him rebound from a four-strikeout performance Tuesday night — was followed by Daniel Nava’s fifth homer of the season. It marked the fourth time this season the Red Sox have gone back-to-back (having done it twice against the Blue Jays). The Nava home run also marked the first home run by a Red Sox right fielder this season.
‘I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough to understand that you can let those AB’s go,” the first baseman said. “Of course, you don’t want to do that but you’re not going to have a good night every night in baseball. I was able to let that go ‘ I wish we had won and I did that, but we didn’t. I know how to let things go and go to the next day. I let it go. I’ll let this go, I had a good night, get out here tomorrow and do my same routine and try to have a good day.”
– Ortiz extended his hit streak to 22 straight games thanks to a leadoff double in the sixth. He is the only major leaguer in history to accumulate a hit streak that long while playing exclusively at designated hitter.
– Will Middlebrooks not only came away with a pair of hits, but managed a nifty basket catch of Colby Rasmus‘ pop-up in foul ground in the sixth inning. It was Middlebrooks’ third multi-hit performance in his last five games.
– Jonny Gomes, who came into the game 6-for-13 against Mark Buehrle, drove the Toronto starter from the game with his second walk of the game in the seventh. After Gomes scored via an Esmil Rogers wild-pitch, the lefty hurler closed out his line, having given up five runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 6.43.
– Nava took advantage of a terrible baserunning decision by Melky Cabrera, who was thrown out by the Sox’ right fielder trying to stretch his seventh-inning single into a double (down by eight runs). Nava’s throw was right on the mark to Drew, who put on the tag with plenty of time to spare.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
With one out in the sixth inning, the bases loaded and Buehrle’s pitch count closing in on the century mark, Drew grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Alex Wilson had a rough outing in following up Buchholz, allowing one run on two hits while also issuing a walk.
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