Closing Time: The old Clay Buchholz reappears in Red Sox’ win over Mariners
|06.26.14 at 12:51 am ET|
SEATTLE — Clay Buchholz evidently made the most of his time away.
The Red Sox pitcher, who hadn’t pitched since May 26, turned in an efficient (and effective) outing in leading the Sox to a 5-4 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night at Safeco Field. He finished his outing allowing four runs on seven hits (including three home runs) over 7 1/3 innings, striking out two and not walking a batter.
Buchholz, who had gone as many as seven innings just once this season, pounded the strike zone throughout the night, throwing 55 of his 76 pitches for strikes. He also tossed first-pitch strikes to 19 of his 27 batters.
“It’s hard to be out there and battle when you’re battling yourself while trying to battle the other team,” the pitcher said. “Yeah, I felt like I did last year as far as the pitches that I was going to throw, and right when I gripped it, I didn’t think anything. I was just thinking, execute, rather than, if I don’t do this, then he’s going to hit it. That was, like I said, I was more clear what I wanted to do.”
The start was a far cry from his last appearance before he went on the 15-day disabled with a knee issue. In that outing Buchholz lasted just three innings, allowing six runs to push his ERA up to 7.02 for the season.
“I think there wasn’t a whole lot of thought going on out there. He was in the flow of the game,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There was a good feel for all four pitches he was throwing. No hesitation on his part. That’s a sign of confidence and a good frame of mind on the mound with that tempo.”
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox‘ 36th win of the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
— Brock Holt continued to be Brock Holt, adding two more hits. Since becoming an everyday player on May 17, the lefty hitter has managed an OPS of .801 and now is hitting .324.
— David Ortiz got the Red Sox on the board in a hurry, launching a two-run homer deep down the right-field line to score Dustin Pedroia and give the visitors a 2-0 first-inning lead. It was the designated hitter’s 18th homer of the season. (Click here to read about Ortiz’s promise he made some kids before the game regarding hitting a home run.)
— Daniel Nava stood out both at the plate and in the field. Offensively, Nava collected three hits to raise his batting average to .227. At the time he was called back up to the majors on June 4, he was hitting just .130. Since then the outfielder has notched a .373 batting average. Defensively, Nava couldn’t hold on to a sinking liner from Kyle Seager, but he snatched the ball and threw it into second in time to gun down the baserunner.
“I’ve felt comfortable for a long time,” Nava said. “It’s just sometimes they fall and sometimes they don’t.”
— A.J. Pierzynski, who came into the game 1-for-18 on the road trip, collected a pair of hits.
— Jonny Gomes made the catch of the night, robbing Stefen Romero with a diving grab of the hitter’s sinking liner with nobody out in the eighth inning.
“The ball wasn’t going to fall in left field,” he said. “For the ball to land, it was going to land in the seats.”
— Andrew Miller came on for Buchholz with one out in the eighth inning and the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead and proceeded to strike out both of the batters he faced.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Stephen Drew stayed mired in a horrific slump. He’s now hitless in his last seven games (0-for-25) after an 0-for-4 night.
— Buchholz succumbed to the long ball in the second and eighth innings. In the second, the righty elevated a changeup to Seager, leading off the frame, and then let Mike Zunino take him deep for a two-run blast later in the inning.
— Koji Uehara ran into some trouble once again, allowing a hit for the fourth straight game. The closer put runners on first and second with one out before striking out Zunino and getting Dustin Ackley to ground out to Holt at first base to end the game.
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