Clay Buchholz was far from his best Wednesday night, but there were oh-so-many moments in the Red Sox’s 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays when he should not have had to be.
There was the top of the fourth inning, when the Red Sox put runners on second and third base with no outs, only to come away without a single run. There was Xander Bogaerts’ throwing error in the sixth, which turned what should have been a one-run inning into a two-run, ultimately game-deciding frame. Sure, Buchholz could have been better, but like fellow starter Jake Peavy on Tuesday night, he could have used a little more help from his friends.
These sorts of opportunities have come and gone far too often this season, and the recent five-game win streak only highlighted that fact. The streak, which has now turned into a two-game skid, was so notable because it was so out of the ordinary. True, it showed how the Red Sox could play, if they performed to the full extent of their abilities, but it also showed that, more often than not, they haven’t.
Brock Holt’s absence for a rare day off didn’t help, and if not for backup catcher David Ross’ plantar fasciitis, Holt might have pinch-hit for Christian Vazquez in the ninth. Take a moment to consider, though, that the defending World Series champions were in a position in which Brock Holt was their would-be savior.
The game opened with promise for the Red Sox. Shane Victorino, taking Holt’s place atop the lineup, and the slumping Dustin Pedroia led off with hits, followed by David Ortiz smacking a towering drive to right field that made him the all-time leader in home runs at Rogers Centre among visiting players. Buchholz immediately gave all three runs back in the bottom of the first, when he took a comeback chopper to the face and stayed in the game. After Bogaerts plated Daniel Nava with a double in the fifth and Buchholz promptly cruised through a 1-2-3 inning, Boston appeared to be in control.
Of course, control has been elusive for Buchholz all season. Within an inning, the Blue Jays were knocking him around, the Red Sox were flinging the ball around and all control swung over to Toronto’s side.
Buchholz assumed the loss, dropping his record to 5-6 while lowering his earned run average to 5.50. It was his second straight start allowing 10 baserunners and four earned runs — not dominating stuff, but more than good enough to win. In most situations, anyway. Just not on Wednesday, and not for a team that is making missed opportunities a habit.