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Another long game.  Another rain delay.  But this time, we had some good results.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to deal with a rain delay after you win.

In retrospect, one of the reasons why I was annoyed with the rain delay (besides the obvious fact that rain delays are just annoying) was that it resulted in the early pulling of Buchholz, who was right in the middle of his best start of the season. Easily his best outing of the year, and I really would have wanted to see how long that would have lasted and how deep he would have gone.

With the rain, he only lasted five innings; the delay started after he had finished the second inning.  To that point, he had fired only twenty-nine pitches.  But since Wake and Aceves were unavailable, we were largely without a long reliever, and we needed him to get back out there and pitch for as long as he was able to pitch.  That’s not something we usually do.  It’s bad for a starting pitcher’s routine to randomly take a break of sorts for multiple hours in the middle of a game.  Sometimes pitchers aren’t the same after even one particularly long inning.  So they sent him down to the cage every fifteen minutes to toss for a few minutes, put the jacket on, walk around, take the jacket off, toss some more.  He warmed up a bit a few minutes before the tarp was good and said he felt decent.  We knew we’d have to pull him out early, but the whole move was largely okay because he’ll have an extra day of rest going into his next start.  We put him in because we had no one else, and we needed him to deliver.  And that’s exactly what he did.

He didn’t just pitch; he pitched well.  Those were five sparkling innings of shutout two-hit ball.  He walked only one and struck out six.  He ended the first inning with a four-pitch called strikeout, putting Jason Kubel away with a two-seam.  He used a four-seam to end another four-pitch strikeout in the following inning and followed that with another strikeout on a changeup.  His third and fourth innings, the two following the rain delay, were excellent.  He threw eight pitches in the third and nine in the fourth.  He opened the third by striking out Luke Hughes on three pitches, ending with a swing and a miss on a changeup.  He struck out Kubel again in the fourth with a foul tip on a changeup.  The fifth was Buchholz’s only one-two-three inning; the Twins went down in order, starting with Rene Tosoni striking out looking on a four-seam.

He threw sixty-one pitches, forty-four for strikes.  He used a potent mix of four-seams, two-seams, changeups, curveballs, and cutters, all of which were working.  He threw any one of those pitches in any count for a strike.  That is not something we’ve seen from him yet this year.  He worked his four-seam up to ninety-five miles per hour.  He picked up a well-deserved win.  Say hello to the better Buchholz.

After Buchholz was pulled, we had quite the string of relievers.  Hill, Albers, and Bard each pitched an inning and each received a hold.  Hill walked his first batter and hit his next one but got out of it with a double play.  Albers allowed a leadoff single.  But they each preserved the shutout.  Bard pitched a one-two-three inning and was in and out after fourteen pitches.  Paps came on to pitch the ninth and mowed right through it.  He did not receive a save because it wasn’t a save opportunity.

Ellsbury led off the first with a double on a sinker, the second pitch of his at-bat.  Then Pedroia walked.  Then Gonzalez and Youk provided two outs before Lowrie singled Ellsbury home.  Pedroia, whose struggles at the plate continue, led off the third with a groundout.  Then Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double and scored on a single by Youk.  We didn’t score again until the eighth, when Salty and Crawford, who both singled and advanced a base thanks to a walk by Drew, came home on a single by Ellsbury.

Lowrie made yet another fielding error, we only had two extra-base hits, we left ten men on base, and we went three for eleven with runners in scoring position.  But we had three multi-hit games (Youk and Crawford both went two for four; Ellsbury went two for five), two stolen bases (Pedroia and Ellsbury ran together on a double steal), and we won, 4-0! It was a masterfully executed victory all around.  We beat the Twins; order has been restored.  Like I said, Buchholz especially deserves that W.  He battled it out and preserved the bullpen, all while making it look easy.  Now let’s go win this series.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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