The young gun was as good as can be expected against a punchless Orioles squad, leading Boston to a 3-1 victory after submitting seven strong innings and further distancing himself from his devastatingly inconsisent 2008 campaign. Once again, Buchholz did everything he could to prove that this version is here to stay, and he couldn’t have done so at a better time.
For the fifth time in six games, the Red Sox offense didn’t have much to offer by way of support, but it didn’t matter: The starting rotation is hitting its stride, and nobody has exemplified that more than Buchholz.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 1
Camden Yards, Baltimore, Md.
Sept. 18, 2009
Headliner: The only word that can be used for Clay Buccholz’s recent string of starts is brilliant, and the brilliance continued against the Orioles on Friday night. The 25-year-old lasted six innings and allowed just one run on five hits. Boston has won in each of Buchholz’s last seven starts, and he has allowed just six runs in five outings since Aug. 29.
Jason Bay hit his 34th home run of the year, taking a belt-high changeup from Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie and depositing it into the seats with zero outs in the top of the fourth. The long ball put Boston on top 2-1, but unfortunately, Bay left the game after his home run with flu-like symptoms.
Dirt Dog: Catcher Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a double in the top of the third.
Runner-up goes to Casey Kotchman, who — earning some extra playing time while Mike Lowell took a day off — went 3-for-4 and drove in Boston’s first run in the top of the second.
Third place goes to Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott, who took a belt-high changeup from Buchholz out of the park with two outs in the bottom of the second, knotting the score at one. It was the first homer allowed by Buccholz in his last five starts.
Better Luck Next Time: Guthrie’s struggles against the Red Sox continued on Friday night, as he allowed three runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He’s the league leader in home runs allowed, and he beefed up his total to 31 when he surrendered a long ball to Bay in the fourth inning. Guthrie has also given up more earned runs (101) than all but one other pitcher.
Key Moment: With one out in the bottom of the fourth, there were men on first and third. As the Red Sox clung to a 2-1 lead, Buchholz induced Luke Scott into a popup and then got Ty Wigginton to fly out to end the inning. For a young guy like Buchholz who gets notoriously rattled with men on base, it was a big statement.
Then, in the top of the sixth, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left, bringing home Josh Reddick with an insurance run.
On Deck: Red Sox ace-of-late Jon Lester (13-7, 3.29 ERA) takes on David Hernandez (4-8, 5.40 ERA) on Saturday evening at 7:05 p.m. Lester has been untouchable lately, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.02 ERA in 19 appearances since May 31. He hasn’t lost in 10 starts since July 25, the longest active unbeaten streak among all AL starters. Last time out, he allowed two hits in eight innings against Tampa Bay.
Hernandez has essentially been the polar opposite of Lester. He also faced the Rays last time out and allowed five runs on nine hits in three innings. In five of his last nine starts, he has gotten knocked out before the end of the fifth inning, and he’s given up 19 homers during that span.