Posts Tagged ‘Clay Buchholz’

Finally! Let’s face it.  We’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time.  Basically we’ve been waiting for this as soon as it became apparent that Buchholz couldn’t pitch.  This is a case in point that proves that rehab is a very delicate process.  It’s too early to make definitive conclusions, but from what I’ve seen, I’m ready to congratulate those involved on a job well done.

Pedroia led off for the first time in years, and Buchholz started for the first time in months.  But it looked like he never left.  Seriously.  I’m not sure anymore what I was expecting, but Buchholz just blew whatever it was right out of the water.  He only pitched five innings, but those were some fine five innings.  He shut out the Rays and gave up only three hits, walking only one and striking out six.  If ever there were a positive note, this would most definitely be it.

Breslow took over and made a very strong showing.  Tazawa and Uehara teamed up to pitch the eighth.

It only took us two runs to win.  Napoli led off the fifth with a double and scored on a single by Gomes, who scored on a sac fly by Salty.  And the final score was two-zip!

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Brandon Workman, ladies and gentlemen! He was so close! He was so close; he had the no-hitter in the bag.  Except for the fact that he had about a third of the game to go, and he just couldn’t hold onto it.  And anytime you see a pitcher, especially someone who doesn’t get regular starting time, take a no-no bid deep and then lose it, it’s crushing.  It’s always crushing.  Six innings is a really long time to not allow any hits.  But in the end, we just couldn’t hold on.

We first scored in the sixth.  Ellsbury, Nava, and Pedroia hit back-to-back-to-back singles that resulted in one run.  Carp led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single by Holt.

Meanwhile, Brandon Workman was six innings into a no-hitter bid.  It was huge.  His walk in the fourth was the only thing not making it a bid for a perfect game.  He was solid gold for six full innings.  It was amazing.  When Buchholz pitched his no-no, he was a young kid new to the big show too.  It was an amazing thing to watch.  He faced the minimum through six and just plowed right through the A’s like they had never played a game of baseball before.  They just couldn’t figure him out.

And then Coco Crisp, of all people, singled on the fifth pitch of the seventh.  It was crushing.  Taking a no-hitter bid into the seventh is really exceptional, but they say that no-hitter bids can be won or lost in the seventh.  I guess the A’s had seen enough of Workman to figure him out, but it was a shame.  He looked like he had their number the entire time; there was no situation in which he was not in complete control of the ballgame.  And then one single changed that completely.

One out later, he gave up a two-run home run that tied the game, and Breslow came in.  Neither team scored in the eighth, or the ninth or tenth, which Uehara pitched.  We had the bases loaded in the eleventh with two out thanks to two walks and a hit batsman, but Holt struck out looking.

Matt Thornton came in for the bottom of the eleventh, and he didn’t do a bad job.  It’s just that the eleventh inning with a tie game is not exactly the greatest time to make a mistake.  And make a mistake he did.  He issued a walk, and two outs later, he issued another walk, and then two pitches later, he gave up an RBI single.

So the final score was 3-2.  We put up a good fight, but I just can’t believe we had the bases loaded the very inning in which we lost the game and did nothing with that opportunity.

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Congratulations to Papi, Pedroia, and Buchholz, who are all going to the All-Star Game! Obviously they’ve earned it.  I know they’ll do what they can to help the American League bring it home this year.  And I hope that we’ll be the ones reaping the benefits in several months.  And I hope that we’ll pitch better than we did last night so we can get there.  Specifically, I hope the relief corps doesn’t make a habit of blowing four-run leads.

Ellsbury singled on the second pitch of the game and proceeded to lay out a textbook example of what manufacturing a run means.  Two outs later, he moved to second on a single by Papi and then stole third, thereby inducing a throwing error that allowed him to score.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the quintessential baserunner: smart, adaptive, quick-thinking, attentive, and of course as fast as it gets.  Nava singled to lead off the second and scored on a sac fly by Brock Holt.

Dempster tied the game at two in the second.  He gave up a solo shot to lead it off and then induced a flyout.  But then he gave up a single that he turned into a double by making a throwing error, and then let it turn into a run on another single.  He gave up another solo shot to lead off the third.

But fortunately we had an answer to that.  Make that a tying answer, a go-ahead answer, and an answer to spare.  Napoli walked to lead off the inning, Nava doubled, and Salty cleared the bases with a double.  Holt reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners, and Salty scored on a single by Iglesias.  With one out in the sixth, Ellsbury tripled and scored on a single by Pedroia.  And Pedroia led off the eighth with a single and scored on a double by Nava.

Heading into the ninth inning, the score was 7-3.  Dempster had given up just the three runs and was replaced by Miller a walk and a strikeout into the seventh.  Miller gave up a single and was replaced by Bailey, who actually induced a double play and managed to get through the eighth inning without incident.  Ironically, the trouble with the relief corps started only after Bailey was taken out.

Wilson was put on for the ninth.  He got the first out with a strikeout, gave up a single, got the second out with a flyout, gave up another single, and hit a batter to load the bases.  Uehara came on, and obviously what we needed in that situation was an out.  We would have done well with an out of any kind.  The bases were loaded, but there were already two out.  All we needed was one more.

Eventually, Uehara did strike out a batter to end the inning.  But not before he allowed multiple scoring plays.  He gave up two consecutive singles that scored a combined total of three runs.  Then Snyder made a throwing error on a force attempt, which let the tying run score.  So I guess technically if the damage had stopped with those two RBI singles, we still could have won the game within nine innings by one run.

We ended up playing eleven and didn’t have much of a fight to show for it.  We went down in order in the tenth with three strikeouts and the eleventh with two groundouts and a popout.  Breslow pitched a solid tenth, but after securing the first out in the eleventh, he gave up a single followed by a home run.  It was the first and last pitch of the at-bat, a bad slider.  So after all that baseball, which started late to begin with, the Angels won, 9-7.

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Wow, what a long day.  A doubleheader plus a rain delay say we played a lot of baseball yesterday.  Fortunately, we came away with the sweep.  One day.  Two games.  Two wins.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  And we won both within nine innings to boot!

Ellsbury doubled in the first and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  Ellsbury and Victorino led off the third with back-to-back singles; both scored on a single by Papi.  With one out in the fifth, Victorino reached on a throwing error and scored on a single by Papi.  Ellsbury tripled in the seventh and scored on a triple by Victorino.

I’ve said this many times before, but for someone who doesn’t see regular pitching time as a starter, he sure did look like a great starter up there.  Aceves pitched five innings of one-run ball.  He gave up three hits and three walks while striking out two.  He issued two consecutive walks in the second, and then one of them turned into a run thanks to a single.  Other than that, he was solid.

Tazawa pitched the sixth, Miller pitched the seventh, Uehara pitched the eighth, and Breslow pitched the ninth.  We won the opener, 5-1.

Nava began the nightcap with a bang, hitting a solo shot with one out in the seventh past the fence in right center field; it was a bad slider.  And Doubront managed to completely top himself.  This, by far, is probably the best start that I have seen from him.  Ever.  Seriously.  The likes of Lester and Buchholz would be fortunate to have a start that comes close to how good this was.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I am still marveling at it.  He looked absolutely spectacular.  And the best part about it was that he looked like it was just a walk in the park.  Felix Doubront held onto a one-run lead in a one-zip game.

Eight shutout innings.  If he had pitched one more inning and not given up three hits, he actually would have had himself a perfect game.  It was absolutely amazing.  In fact, Doubront should have continued pitching.  Bailey came in, and what happens? He gives up a solo shot on his second pitch, tying it up at one.  It was absolutely cruel.

Because in the bottom of the ninth, Nava walked, and Gomes hit a whopping homer toward the Monster on the only pitch of his at-bat.  It was a walkoff.  There was a mob at the plate.  It was a thing of beauty.

Except for the fact that Bailey was credited with both the blown save and the 3-1 win.  The injustice in that is epic.  Bailey was the one who put us in the position of needing a walkoff in the first place.  And as fun as it turned out to be to watch Gomes seal the deal, it should not have been necessary.  And Doubront, who would have been perfectly happy winning a one-zip game, now has no decision to show for it.

In other news, the Bruins lead the series, two to one, thanks to a two-zip win!

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The inclement weather gave us a spontaneous day off, although the game was postponed, so we’ll have to make it up later.  Speaking of which, that is also what we did today.  It turns out that the extra off day was right on time; making up a game previously rescheduled, we had a twin bill.

We lost the opener.  Doubront took the loss but Morales didn’t help any.  Doubront gave up only three runs in six innings of work; that’s a quality start.  None of the runs scored via the long ball, which means that they were not the products of isolated mistakes.  However, Doubront by no means had a bad day.  He actually looked pretty good.  And if the Angels had been held to three runs, then all else being equal, we would have walked away the victors.

Morales, however, gave up four runs in the seventh inning alone.  Not counting the outs, he gave up a double, an intentional walk, an RBI double, another walk that loaded the bases, and two consecutive walks that both walked in runs and re-loaded the bases each time.  Then he was lifted for Mortensen, who gave up a single that allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  It was awful.  Morales could not find the strike zone at any time.  His terrible performance made the two outs that he managed to record look like accidents.  Mortensen pitched until he allowed two singles and a popup in the ninth, when Miller took over.  Miller gave up a walk to load the bases, which was obviously the theme of our relief corps’s performance.  One force out later, he walked in a run of his own, and a fielding error by Napoli resulted in the Angels’ last run of the morning.

Carp hit a solo shot to lead off the fourth for our first run of the day.  Two outs later, Ellsbury walked, stole second, and scored on a single by Nava.  We were still fighting even in the ninth inning; we hit three straight singles with two out plus a double that scored a total of two runs.  But it wasn’t enough, and we lost, 9-5.

The nightcap got off to an auspicious start.  Victorino singled to lead off the first and scored on a double by Gomes, who scored on a double by Pedroia.  The next inning, Gomes singled and scored on a double by Papi.  The nightcap then continued just as auspiciously; Iglesias led off the sixth with a single and scored two outs later on a single by Pedroia.  And it all cleared when Papi homered for two more runs.

Buchholz gave up his first run in the third thanks to a double-single combination.  He gave up his second run in the sixth thanks to a double and a sac fly.  And that was it for him.  Breslow and Tazawa finished the game, and the final score was 7-2.  So we split.  I would have preferred we sweep, but we’ll take what we can get.

Now that’s what I call quick work.  The Penguins never saw it coming.  It was a clean sweep, culminating in a one-zip win.  That would be twenty-six saves for Tuuka Rask and some timely heroics by Adam McQuaid.  The Eastern Conference is now officially in the bag.

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Oh, wow! Winning is even more fun than I thought! I don’t know if it’s the fabulous pitching performance, or the fact that it was a shutout, or the fact that we beat the Yankees, but man, it was awesome.

We went down in order in the first.  Thanks to two singles, we had two men on base in the second.  We went down in order again in the third.  Finally we got on the board in the fourth, and we proceeded to score one run per inning in the next three straight innings.  Pedroia and Papi led this one off with back-to-back singles, and Pedroia scored on a force out by Napoli.  In the fifth, it was Iglesias’s turn, and turn he did, on the first and only pitch he got in that at-bat.  It was a sinker that completely missed, and he launched it beyond the left field fence for his first long ball of the year and second of his career.  Papi offered a repeat performance in the sixth, leading off with another home run, also on a sinker that completely missed.  Except that it was the second pitch of the at-bat, and the ball lofted over the fence in right field instead.

Meanwhile, Buchholz was the one putting the zip in the final score of three-zip.  He pitched five shutout innings of two-hit ball, walking only one and striking out four.

On account of rain, the game was cut short by one-third.  Not that the extra three innings would have made a difference; I am confident that our lead would have held.  But because the delay, which was the third of the night and the second of the sixth inning alone, meant that the game had to be called, it also meant that Buchholz earned the fourth complete-game shutout of his career.  (Miller was slated to relieve him, but because play never resumed, he never took the mound.)

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Clay Buchholz, ladies and gentlemen.  The man never ceases to amaze me.  His ERA is still under 2.00; his 1.73 leads the league.  Watching him work is like watching the quintessential example of everything that pitching is supposed to be, in all its expert and masterful glory.  He just keeps getting better and better.

We got on the board first and established a lead early.  Granted, it was only a one-run lead, but when you have the right pitchers, that’s really all you need.

We really didn’t waste any time.  Ellsbury grounded out on the game’s third pitch, but after that, Gomes got hit, Pedroia doubled, and both scored on Papi’s single.  Napoli then walked, but Nava and Middlebrooks both struck out to end the frame.  Although Papi did steal third in the process.  You don’t get to see Papi steal a base very often.  It’s always fun to watch, even if ultimately it doesn’t amount to anything.

Our offensive production was all very nonexistent after that.  Ellsbury singled in the second.  Napoli walked in the third.  Ellsbury walked in the fifth.  That was it through six.  Salty and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles in the seventh with two out, but it amounted to nothing.

We had a truly excellent scoring opportunity in the eighth; the best there is, really.  Pedroia lined out to start it off, but then Papi and Napoli hit back-to-back singles and Nava walked to load the bases.  We didn’t do anything major, but we did enough to provide some insurance, and in a game in which a one-run lead held until the eighth, scoring one other run alone would have been like scoring ten.  Middlebrooks hit a sac fly, bringing Papi home.  Drew walked to re-load the bases, and Napoli scored on a passed ball.  The inning ended with Salty’s strikeout, but we managed to double our run total and triple our lead.

If there are two pitchers on this staff that you can feel absolutely one hundred percent confident in when it comes to a one-run lead, they’re Lester and Buchholz.  Last night, it was Buchholz.  Watching him pitch with a one-run lead is like watching him pitch with a ten-run lead: easy and efficient.  His fastball and his off-speed pitches don’t miss.  They mix up the hitters and get the outs.  And he isn’t afraid to take the risks that allow him to keep batters on edge and win ballgames.

His second pitch of the game was actually hit for a single; fortunately, the runner was caught stealing second base.  He then issued two consecutive walks, but he got out of the inning unscathed.  He had a one-two-three second; his only blemish came in the third.  He gave up a single, issued a walk, and induced a force out that resulted in runners at the corners.  Then one run scored on a groundout, and the inning ended with a strikeout.  That’s what I would call a smart run; it’s usually advisable to trade the run for the out, especially if it’s only one run.  You should always be able to count on your lineup to score more than one run.

He gave up a single in the fourth, but thanks to a double play, he faced the minimum.  He gave up a single in the fifth and sixth, which ended with another caught-stealing.  The seventh inning was a thing of beauty: nine pitches, three up, three down.  All told, he pitched seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, walked three, and struck out four.  It was absolutely beautiful.

Uehara had a one-two-three eighth.  And we padded our lead even more in the ninth.  Ellsbury walked, Nava singled, and two outs later, Napoli walked to load the bases yet again.  And yet again, it was nothing big, but it was a single that scored another two runs.  Middlebrooks ended the rally with a groundout.

Bailey came on for the ninth; it was less than flawless.  He got the first two outs fine, then made a mistake and allowed a solo shot, and then ended the inning with a strikeout.  Fortunately, the score wasn’t still 2-1 at the time.  We won, 4-1.  We avoided the sweep and won the road trip.  Simple enough.

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