Clay Buchholz brought the good stuff Sunday.
Buchholz, whose season has been marred by inconsistency, tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout in the Boston Red Sox’s 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The right-hander needed just 98 pitches.
Sunday’s victory was a nice bounce-back effort for Boston after Saturday’s disappointing loss, in which the Red Sox’s offense produced only one hit, Allen Webster struggled and Dustin Pedroia left with concussion-like symptoms.
Let’s examine Sunday’s results.
– Buchholz was sensational. He was in control from start to finish, allowing only one runner to advance beyond first base.
“I was mixing all of my pitches for strikes in different parts of the count,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, we face these guys a lot and they face me, so they know what I bring to the table. It’s a chess match against them because they’re so familiar. You’ve just got to try to keep them off balance.”
Buchholz struck out six and didn’t yield a single walk. If you toss out the ninth inning of his last start in Toronto, in which Koji Uehara allowed three inherited runners to score, you’re looking at a 17-inning scoreless stretch in which Buchholz has allowed just five hits and one walk.
Of course, you can’t toss out that ninth inning in Toronto, though.
– Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz each produced an RBI single.
Vazquez knocked in Xander Bogaerts in the third inning after Rays starter Alex Cobb fired an errant pickoff throw that enabled Bogaerts to advance to third base.
Betts drove in Brock Holt in the fifth after Holt singled and swiped second base with two outs.
Ortiz plated Betts in the eighth after Betts doubled on a sinking line drive to center field.
– Betts, batting out of the No. 2 spot in Pedroia’s absence, swung the bat well. He collected two hits, drove in a run, scored a run and hit the ball hard four times.
It was the first time in Betts’ major league career that he hit higher than sixth in the Red Sox’s order. The 21-year-old, who was playing in his 26th big league game, has an enticing combination of speed, power and on-base ability. It could play well at the top of the lineup in the not-so-distance future if he continues to prove himself.
Betts is hitting .273 with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs in 12 games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 18. He keeps standing out at a time when Boston’s young players are aiming to show what they’re all about.
– Bogaerts collected two hits despite striking out twice.
– Rusney Castillo made his debut in the Red Sox organization. He went 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout while serving as the designated hitter for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox at the club’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Castillo will suit up for the GCL Red Sox again Monday, according to Boston manager John Farrell. Castillo is expected to play center field.