BOSTON — With two men aboard in the ninth, Red Sox manager
Bobby Valentine made a trek to the mound.
At that point in Sunday's 4-3 loss, Valentine wanted to
check on starter Clay Buchholz's status, considering he was on pace to throw a
complete game. Valentine was prepping for the possibility of inserting a
"I wanted to make sure he believed like I did that he
had enough," Valentine said. "He said 'Guaranteed.' All year long,
Clay has been totally honest with me. After eight, he felt great, so he wasn't
really stressed there in the ninth."
After intentionally walking Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
shortstop Omar Vizquel — who entered the game with three RBIs this season — whacked Buchholz's cutter to left field for a deep sac fly.
It resulted in the go-ahead run and Vizquel's second RBI of
the game, marking a fitting end to the legendary shortstop's last visit to
Fenway Park. After 24 years in Major League Baseball, Vizquel demonstrated his
clutch hitting against Boston's best pitcher.
"I felt fine, just didn’t execute the pitch the way I
needed to execute it," Buchholz said. "I was throwing the ball pretty
good over the course of the season — had a rough start — but I felt like I've
done a pretty good job coming off of those seven or eight starts."
Now the Red Sox have dropped 11 of the last 12 games,
including four in a row, to fall two games below Toronto for last place in the AL
East. Boston has lost six straight games to the Jays, the longest streak
against them since a stretch from Sept. 5, 2007 to April 4, 2008.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox almost re-discovered
a stroke of luck, when Cody Ross launched a ball — with a man on base — over
the Green Monster. But it was foul and ultimately couldn't match Vizquel's
"That was supposed to be a cutter in," Buchholz
said of his last pitch to Vizquel. "But I didn’t get it in. … When that
happens sometimes you got to tip your cap, but it doesn't make you feel good.
It leaves a little bitter taste in your mouth, but that's the game. That's how
it's been going for us lately."
strong pitching performances have gone by the wayside.