Okay. This whole game was gold. I’m going to start with the pitching but it’s all I can do not to just skip to the end. Seriously.
This is the start from Buchholz that we’ve been waiting for. This start was awesome. This is the type of start we want to see from him, and from all of our starters, every time out. So this is the start we need him to build upon in order to sustain this momentum. We’re in the second half now, and we need to have a monster second half because we have a lot of ground to cover, and having our starters build some momentum toward improvement like this is exactly what we need to take us forward.
Buchholz pitched a full eight innings and gave up one run on six hits while walking one and striking out six. It was awesome. He pitched like a master because, as we know, deep down he is one. He used all of the pitches in his arsenal to expert degrees, pitching to and around hitters and drawing on both his heat and his off-speeds. And he was efficient to boot.
And what made the start even more impressive is that it was part of an extremely intense pitcher’s duel. In true pitcher’s-duel fashion, the score was decided for most of the game by one run, and that one run was the only run that either team scored for almost the entire game. That “almost” is the key.
At the plate, we did a whole lot of nothing for a whole lot of time. Buchholz allowed his run in the fourth; he gave up a walk, a single, and finally a sac fly that brought it in. And by the time that run scored, we knew that this was going to be a pitcher’s duel for the long haul. So that run may as well have been ten. It certainly felt like ten. Through six innings, Ciriaco’s triple in the third was our only hit, and the third was our only inning during which we sent more than the minimum to the plate. We had a good chance to break it open in the seventh, our most productive inning featuring three consecutive singles to load the bases with one out, but then Middlebrooks ended the threat with a double play. And our only hit in the eighth was a single, so we were heading into the ninth gearing up for a potential disappointment.
What we got was the exact opposite. Crawford opened the inning with a single, the newly-returned Pedroia grounded out, Gonzalez singled, Punto came on to pinch-run for him, and the Other Sox made a pitching change. And then Ross stepped up to the plat in every sense. He took a ninety-four mile-per-hour fastball for a ball. He took a ninety-three mile-per-hour fastball for a strikeout. And then he hit the fastest of all, a fastball at ninety-five miles per hour, all the way out toward the Monster for yet another three-run shot. It was high. It was far. It was huge. It was a walkoff.
He tossed his bat aside like he knew for a fact before the ball even left the batter’s box that it was going to be out. It was one of those things where it was too perfect to really be true, and yet somehow it actually was. It was so ridiculously, absurdly awesome in every way.
The final score was 3-1. Unfortunately, Buchholz had no win to show for his gem; Aceves picked that up for his work in the ninth. Gonzalez and Ross each went two for four for our only two multi-hit performances of the night. Ciriaco’s triple and Ross’s homer were our only extra-base hits. Both teams posted eight hits in total.
How ‘bout that? We just won the series after one swing of the bat. That was pure, pure awesome.