Jon Lester was the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter, and he’s considered the team’s ace in the minds of many. Clay Buchholz, the starter for Monday’s home opener, continues to match the southpaw step for step.
Buchholz tossed seven shutout innings against the Orioles on Monday. It marks the second straight outing Buchholz has gone seven innings, and he and Lester now hold a combined 4-0 record to begin the season — just how the Sox drew it up.
The Red Sox struggled for a number of reasons last season, but inconsistent starting pitching was the ultimate Achilles’ heel. Lester and Buchholz — who both had down years — weren’t alone in their struggles, but given their status as Boston’s top two starters, much of the blame fell on their shoulders.
Now, with the Red Sox sitting at 5-2 to begin 2013, much of the praise should be placed on those same shoulders. And if Lester and Buchholz continue to work their magic, the Sox should find themselves in the thick of things throughout the entire season.
Buchholz came away from Monday’s start sounding like a man who wasn’t thrilled with the way he pitched. He couldn’t point to one particular pitch that was superior to the rest, and he even thinks he might have gotten away with some mistakes.
“I didn’t really have one thing that was working the whole day. I was up in the zone,” Buchholz said. “There was a couple balls hit early that would have gotten out, but stayed in the park. Other than that, it was sort of a grind there for a little bit.”
The right-hander might not be completely sold on his performance, but he did exactly what the Red Sox needed him to do, and it’s clear that he’s every bit as important as Lester in terms of keeping Boston’s rotation a stable unit.
Buchholz gave up just three hits while keeping Baltimore off the scoreboard. He walked four batters, which the right-hander wasn’t too happy about, but he also struck out eight. Buchholz’s two-seamer to lefties was particularly effective, and he seemed very much in control throughout the outing. Even when the O’s did put runners on, Buchholz minimized the threat. All three of the hits he allowed were singles, and no runners advanced past second during his seven innings of work.
Throughout spring training, the Red Sox received stellar starting pitching, and that success is carrying over into the regular season. The Sox look like they could have two bona fide aces this season, and that should continue to set the tempo for the rest of the staff.