After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Tuesday night to begin a three-game series with the Miami Marlins. The Red Sox took two of three from the Marlins in the Sunshine State last week, and dominant pitching performances were a big reason why.
After dropping the first game of the series, Clay Buchholz took the mound Tuesday and was brilliant, going seven innings for the win while surrendering just one run on five hits. Buchholz also struck out a season-high nine batters in the Sox' 2-1 win. The outing was Buchholz's third straight victory and the fourth consecutive start in which he pitched at least seven innings while allowing two runs or less. After an uneven first two months of the season, the righty looks to have regained the form he showed in 2010, when he posted the American League's second-best ERA.
On Wednesday night, Felix Doubront followed up Buchholz's stellar outing with one of his own. The 24-year-old southpaw went a career-high seven innings, taking a no-hitter into the sixth and allowing just two runs in a 10-2 Boston victory. Doubront is tied for the team lead with seven wins, and his strikeout rate of 9.9 per nine innings ranks second in the AL.
Buchholz and Doubront will take the mound for the first two games of the series, respectively, while Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the call to start the series' final game on Thursday. Matsuzaka looked erratic in his first start of the season against the Nationals on June 15, surrendering four runs in five innings despite striking out eight batters.
He improved in his second start against the Cubs on Friday, lasting six innings and allowing just four hits. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old also walked three batters — all of them in the first inning — which came back to haunt him as the Cubs' Steve Clevenger hit a two-out double to plate two runs in a 3-0 Cubs win. Matsuzaka will look to continue his upward trend against Miami on Thursday.
The Red Sox also received a strong effort from reliever Scott Atchison against the Cubs. Atchison appeared in all three games, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing no baserunners. For the season, Atchison has appeared in 28 games and posted an ERA of 1.24 and a WHIP of 0.94.
Franklin Morales was also strong in his spot start for Josh Beckett, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He went five innings, struck out nine and will be expected to start again.
So, with another series with the Marlins on tap, who do you think will be this week's Amica Pitcher of the Week?