The Sox' young hurler didn't quite bring the stuff he had on September
1, 2007, when he threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles as a
rookie, but Saturday night's victory was as close as you can get.
Buchholz took a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning, striking out
nine Toronto Blue Jays and walking just two, and the Red Sox won a 3-2
decision at Fenway.
The Red Sox jumped on Toronto rookie Ricky Romero early Saturday night, starting off the game with three straight hits and leading from wire to wire. In the sixth inning, they rallied again for two more runs, giving the Red Sox some much-needed insurance.
Buchholz came within two outs of the complete game, but Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon teamed up to finish off the ninth inning. Papelbon retired the game's final two batters to earn his 32nd save of the season.
Final: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2.
Buchholz can't quite
finish the complete-game shutout, but he gets a rousing standing
ovation from the Fenway faithful for trying. After a single and a hard
liner to shortstop from Aaron Hill, Tito reluctantly comes to the mound
to pull his starter — he turns to Hideki Okajima, but that experiment fails when Oki allows back-to-back RBI hits.
Okajima then leaves in favor of Jonathan Papelbon, who ships up to Boston just in time to get the final two outs and save the victory for Clay Buchholz. Vernon Wells pops one up behind home plate for Victor Martinez, and Kevin Millar follows with a pop-up behind third base. Mike Lowell is there, and the ballgame is over. Buchholz gets his third win and Papelbon, his 32nd save.
End 8th, 3-0 Sox: The Red Sox fail to tack on any insurance runs against Scott Downs,
the fifth Toronto pitcher — an Ellsbury tripled and a four-pitch walk
to Pedroia is enough to threaten a two-out rally, but Aaron Hill makes
a nice play at second base to stab a Martinez grounder, and the Jays
get out of it. We're headed to the ninth — Clay Buchholz will attempt
to go the distance for the Red Sox.
Middle 8th, 3-0 Sox: Buchholz continues his dazzling performance
on the mound, showing absolutely no signs of stopping. It's another
1-2-3 inning for the Sox' hurler here in the eighth, as he strikes out
Travis Snider and Jason McDonald before getting Raul Chavez to fly out
to shallow right field. Make it eight scoreless for the Jays against
End 7th, 3-0 Sox: League stays in to pitch the seventh for
Toronto, and he gets the job done nicely. David Ortiz battles back from
down 0-2 to force a full count, but he grounds out to first; League
then mows down Jason Bay and Mike Lowell to end the inning. Buchholz is
staying in to pitch the eighth — it's the bottom of the order (Snider
McDonald, Chavez) due up for Toronto.
Middle 7th, 3-0 Sox: Buchholz finally allows his first real
hit (not counting that dinky little Kevin Millar grounder in the second
inning) — Lyle Overbay lines one to center for his first hit with one
out in the seventh. But Buchholz quickly recovers from there, striking
out Wells and Millar to polish off a scoreless seventh. Buchholz now
has seven strikeouts and two walks against these Blue Jays, and he's
thrown just 84 pitches in seven innings.
End 6th, 3-0 Sox: Four pitchers, two runs for the Sox in inning
number six. After one jam too many, Cito Gaston finally pulls the plug
on Ricky Romero — after walks to Bay and Drew, Gaston opts for Casey Janssen to
face the righty Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez lines one back up the middle,
scoring Bay, and Gaston then reverses course to get a lefty, Jesse Carlson, to pitch to Ellsbury. After Ellsbury strikes out, Cito makes yet another pitching change, getting Brandon League to face Dustin Pedroia with two outs.
Pedroia grounds one up the middle for an infield single, but John McDonald makes a great play to save a run, throwing home to hold up Drew. It's all for naught, though, as League walks Victor Martinez on five pitches, so Drew scores from third anyway. The inning finally comes to an end when Kevin Youkilis chops one to third, but the Sox have now built a comfortable lead for Clay Buchholz heading into the seventh.
Middle 6th, 1-0 Sox: The one-hit shutout stays intact for Clay
Buchholz in the sixth inning, although Buch does issue a five-pitch
walk to Jose Bautista with two outs. But that brings up Aaron Hill, and
Hill chops one to Mike Lowell at third base to end the inning. Through
six, the Blue Jays still have yet to hit one out of the infield against
End 5th, 1-0 Sox: The Sox get a man on for the fifth consecutive
inning against Romero — this time it's Kevin Youkilis, who takes his
base on Romero's second hit-by-pitch with two outs in the inning — but
again, they get nothing. Big Papi hacks at the first pitch and grounds
out to shortstop, and it's on to the sixth inning. Buchholz will see
the Jays' 8-9-1 hitters.
Middle 5th, 1-0 Sox: Buchholz lets the lead runner on in an inning for the first time, walking Vernon Wells to
lead off the fifth, but he quickly recovers to put up another goose
egg. Millar lines out to left, and Snider grounds into a double play to
end the inning, second to short to first. On to the bottom of the
fifth, when the Sox will send the 2-3-4 portion of their order to the
End 4th, 1-0 Sox: Romero benefits from a nice strike 'em out,
throw 'em out double play to keep the Sox scoreless in the fourth
inning — Gonzalez goes down swinging with nobody out in the fourth,
and the catcher Raul Chavez makes a perfect throw to second base to gun
down J.D. Drew. Ellsbury then grounds to first, and the Sox have put up
another goose egg.
Middle 4th, 1-0 Sox: Buchholz just keeps cruising through the
Blue Jays' order — Millar's infield single remains the only Toronto
baserunner. Buch mows down the heart of the order in the fourth —
Aaron Hill lines out to third, Adam Lind strikes out looking, and Lyle Overbay grounds one to Gonzalez on the first pitch. Smooth sailing for the Sox' youngster.
End 3rd, 1-0 Sox: The Sox once again threaten a huge rally
against Romero — it's only a matter of time before they break this
thing wide open. Pedroia and Youkilis each single against Romero in the
third, and after a Youk steal of second base, the Sox have two in
scoring position. Bay then walks to load the bases, but Lowell grounds
out to first — inning over. Three innings, six runners left on base
for the Red Sox.
Middle 3rd, 1-0 Sox: Another 1-2-3 inning for Buchholz — if not
for that call at first base in the second, we'd be looking at a perfect
game through three. Buch gets some help from the defense behind him
this time around — Lowell makes a nice leaping snow-cone catch on a
John McDonald liner to lead things off, and Ellsbury ends the third
with a running catch in deep, deep center field. Buchholz has burned
through three innings with just 31 pitches.
End 2nd, 1-0 Sox: The Red Sox mount a serious threat to Romero in the second, but nothing comes of it. Jason Bay takes a hit-by-pitch and Mike Lowell doubles him to third; after a walk to J.D. Drew,
the Sox have the bases loaded. But Gonzalez rolls one to first for one
out, and Ellsbury grounds into a 6-4-3 double play for two more. The
Sox blow another chance at a huge early rally against the Toronto
7:48 p.m.: Just a point of clarification: The "TED" patches on the left sleeves of the Blue Jays' jerseys are not, in fact, a tribute to the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. The Jays have dedicated this season to Edward Samuel "Ted" Rogers, the Canadian communications tycoon who owned the team between 2000 and his death on December 2, 2008.
Middle 2nd, 1-0 Sox: Buchholz makes it five Blue Jays in a row
retired to start the game — and he could have had six, if not for a
questionable call at first base. Alex Gonzalez makes a beautiful stop on a grounder to the left side from Kevin Millar, and his throw to first is right on the mark but a millisecond late, according to first-base umpire Jim Wolf. Further review calls Wolf's judgment into question, but the call stands. Buch then strikes out Travis Snider looking, and the Sox are out of the second with little trouble.
End 1st, 1-0 Sox: The Red Sox waste absolutely no time getting
on the board against Ricky Romero — the first three Boston hitters
notch base hits against the Jays' rookie, starting with a leadoff
double from Ellsbury and then back-to-back singles. They could have had
more, too, but Pedroia foolishly gets himself picked off third base
during David Ortiz's at-bat with two on and one out. That kills a potential Sox rally, and the lead remains just one.
Middle 1st, 0-0: No light drizzle's going to stop Clay Buchholz
from going after these Blue Jays in the top of the first. Buchholz puts
down the Blue Jays 1-2-3 to get things started — Bautista strikes out,
Aaron Hill flies to left and Adam Lind grounds out to short. Top of the order coming up for Boston — Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez.
6:30 p.m.: The rain is still coming down here in Boston, but
tonight's game is still on as scheduled. The lineups are in and we're
ready for baseball — Victor Martinez will be behind the plate to catch Clay Buchholz, moving Kevin Youkilis to first base and Mike Lowell to third. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing through that high ankle sprain, is still playing center field and leading off for the Red Sox.
For the Blue Jays, Jose Bautista moves into the leadoff spot for tonight's game. That means no Marco Scutaro at the top of the Toronto order — Cito Gaston has given John McDonald the start at shortstop, and McDonald will bat eighth. Behind the plate, Raul Chavez gets the start in place of regular catcher Rod Barajas.
10:35 a.m.: The Red Sox have had their way with the Toronto Blue Jays this season, and Friday night was no exception.
The Sox fell behind early, but they rallied back to keep the ballgame close, and an eighth-inning rally was enough to seal a 6-5 win in the rain-delayed thriller. But with the AL wild-card race still too close for comfort, there's no time to get complacent now.
The Sox would love another win, and they'll turn to the youngster Clay Buchholz to get it. Buchholz faces rookie Ricky Romero in Saturday night's ballgame at the Fens, with the Sox looking to improve to 10-4 on the season against Toronto.
It's been a good season for the Red Sox against Toronto, but that season's not over yet. They'll need to keep the pressure on.