Ladies and gentlemen, it is my esteemed pleasure and highest honor to finally announce, at long last, that Clay Buchholz has arrived!
And just in time, too. We avoid the sweep and get back over .500. And we got to completely dominate. That was fun, too.
Buchholz, in all his glory and splendor, pitched a complete-game shutout. Let me repeat that: Buchholz pitched a complete-game shutout. One more time: Buchholz pitched a complete-game shutout!
Four hits. One walk. Six strikeouts. 125 pitches. Seventy-eight strikes. Phenomenal curveball, phenomenal changeup, phenomenal cutter, excellent fastball. You know Buchholz is back when his off-speeds start clicking.
Buchholz’s first at-bat was hilarious because it was absolutely no indication of what was to follow. His first two pitchers were balls, and his third was hit for a single. He followed that with a swinging strikeout on a fastball and then a double play; that was more like it.
He gave up a double in the second for his second hit but it amounted to nothing thanks to a groundout, a flyout, and a popout. He allowed a single to lead off the third and again ended the inning with a double play and a swinging strikeout, this one on a changeup. He faced four in the fourth, this time a result of him missing a catch, but he got out of it thanks to two groundouts and a flyout. He hit two batters in the fifth but got around it thanks to a double play and another swinging strikeout, this one on a curveball. His sixth inning was his first one-two-three inning that was three straight outs: a called strikeout on a fastball, a groundout, and a lineout. His seventh was the second: two lineouts and a swinging strikeout on a changeup.
He gave up a single to start the eighth but then posted a called strikeout on a fastball followed by a force out and a groundout. And lastly, in the ninth, he gave up his only walk but also induced a groundout and two flyouts.
So it was kind of a funny complete-game shutout. You would expect to see something truly spectacular with pitches thrown for strikes over eighty percent of the time and strikeouts in the double digits and one-two-three innings left and right. In reality, it felt like your average outing, except with one pitcher instead of, like, four or five and no runs being scored and hardly any hits.
But without the contribution from the offense, which I am extremely glad to say was hefty, we might still be playing baseball, so here’s how it went down.
We didn’t waste time. We scored two runs in each of the first three innings and one in the eighth as icing on the proverbial cake. In the first, after Nava popped out, Pedroia walked and Youk singled. Papi popped out, but then Middlebrooks walked to load the bases, and Gonzalez scored two with a double. McDonald walked to open the second, and then Shoppach singled and Nava walked to loade the bases again. All Perdroia could muster in that situation was a force out, but at least it scored two. (Pedroia was able to advance to second on a throwing error, and Youk walked after that, but neither Papi nor Middlebrooks came up with anything.) Gonzalez began the third with a single. Between two strikeouts, McDonald doubled, and then Nava singled them both in. (Nava advanced to second on a fielding error but Pedroia provided a quick out. Like, really quick. He flied out on his second pitch.) And lastly, Nava doubled in the eighth and scored on a double by Youk.
So we won, 7-0. Nothing too flashy from Buchholz or the hitters, either. We played strictly small ball. We posted nine hits, four of which were for extra bases, all of which were doubles. We had three multi-hit games: Youk went two for four, Nava went two for three, and Gonzalez went three for four; all three of them hit one double each. McDonald and Shoppach each had one hit, making Shoppach the only member of the lineup who got at least one hit but whose hits did not include a double. You would have expected all sorts of fireworks, like home runs and triples and taking advantage of all sorts of opportunities, but in reality, they were seven pretty low-key runs.
So it was a phenomenal game and an interesting game, phenomenal because, hey, it was clearly and obviously phenomenal, but interesting because it could have been even more phenomenal and yet was still phenomenal. That in and of itself is pretty phenomenal.