Red Sox Live Blog: Sox Steal a Victory Behind Clay Buchholz’ Solid Pitching, Mike Aviles’ Bloop RBI

by NESN Staff

July 25, 2012

Red Sox Live Blog: Sox Steal a Victory Behind Clay Buchholz' Solid Pitching, Mike Aviles' Bloop RBI

Final, Red Sox Win 2-1: It feels a little bit like the Red Sox just stole a victory there, manufacturing a run from little and keeping the rugged Rangers offense down over the course of nine innings. Either way, it's a win, and the Sox will take it.

With the victory the Red Sox get back to the .500 mark at 49-49, while the Rangers drop a game to 57-39. Vicente Padilla (4-0) gets the win in relief, Joe Nathan (1-3) takes the loss and Alfredo Aceves picks up his 21st save.

Our Red Sox Live Blog will be back tomorrow for the rubber game of the series and another 8:05 p.m. ET first pitch. For now, you can stick with or tune into NESN for all your post game needs. Tomorrow's television pregame begins at 7 p.m.

For now, we bid you a pleasant rest of your evening.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 2-1: After going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox — Mike Aviles, specifically — finally break through and put one across the plate, putting the team in a position to steal a win.

End 8th, 1-1: Scary moment there with Beltre, and although it hurts them in the short-term, it was almost certainly the right decision to pull the third baseman from the game there rather than risk his future health.

We've taken the opportunity to share this before, but much information has come out about head injuries and concussions in sports, and the magnum opus on the subject thus far has been John Branch's three-part piece for the New York Times on former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard. It's a long read, but well worth the time, as it's absolutely heart-wrenching yet cuts right to the heart of the issue with concussions.

Mid 8th, 1-1: So, let's revisit the similar physical appearances of Ian Kinsler — who's since been kicked out of this game — and actor James Franco. The pictures are courtesy of these two Twitter accounts.

Red Sox Live Blog: Sox Steal a Victory Behind Clay Buchholz' Solid Pitching, Mike Aviles' Bloop RBI

End 7th, 1-1: After 105 pitches you would have to imagine his night is done, but Clay Buchholz absolutely did his job. Now it's up to the offense to try and earn the right-hander a win.

Long-term the offense is not going to be a problem for the Red Sox, but over the past five games it's done the team no favors, and in this case hasn't been able to take advantage of a great outing by Buchholz.

Mid 7th, 1-1: So the rookie Perez goes six innings, yielding a single run over 98 pitches. Not too shabby for another spot starter from the Rangers, who are reeling in terms of pitching help, and recently learned that they've lost Colby Lewis for the remainder of the season.

Alexi Ogando looked good as well, featuring his typical heat. Now the onus is likely back on Buchholz, as he tries to keep the game knotted at one.

End 6th, 1-1: The wild pitch from Buchholz in that last half inning was very, very costly, as it allowed Andrus to get to third and then score on Hamilton's routine ground ball. Smart play by Aviles to take the easy out at first, at least — he had no chance to get Andrus.

This is where you'd like to see the Red Sox offense respond and give Buchholz some support. Given that quality starts have been few and far between you'd like to take advantage of the ones you do get, but thus far Tuesday, the Sox have been unable to do that.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 1-0: It's traditional logic that a pitcher has the advantage in a matchup against hitters they've never faced, and sometimes that applies to rookie pitchers as well.

Whatever the case, Perez has mostly kept the Red Sox down on the night, as Boston doesn't seem to have an answer for the lefty's big 12-6 curveball. However, at 98 pitches he may not be much longer for this game.

End 5th, Red Sox 1-0: Good job by Buchholz to work out of trouble there. The right-hander is only at 67 pitches through five innings, so look for him to give the bullpen a break and throw at least a couple more frames.

Also, nice stretch by Gonzalez on that inning-ending double play, he did very, very well there to keep his foot on the bag.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 1-0: If you happen to be following along with NESN's broadcast of the game, Jerry Remy just made an excellent point about Beltre's great play on Ciriaco's bunt attempt.

The angle that Beltre had to throw across his body from was absolutely absurd, and it's amazing that he was not only able to get a fair amount of velocity on the throw, but with accuracy as well.

Beltre's been one of the best third baseman in baseball for years, but has largely flown under the radar due to the perception that originated out of Los Angeles that he was a J.D. Drew-like underachiever whose desire never matched his ability. That appears to be a false assumption.

End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: Four innings and 52 pitches for Buchholz, who's yet to yield a run and protecting a one-run lead.

You'd like to see the Boston offense come up with some more support at some point, but, again, Buchholz' outing has been a huge pick-me-up for a rotation maligned of late.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: There you see the importance of the route an outfielder takes to the ball. It's a product of pure instincts rather than physical skills like speed, but it's probably even more important in making a good outfielder.

Granted, on that fly ball out to Murphy, the big Texas sky probably had a lot to do with why the right fielder had a hard time tracking it off the bat, but Murphy also initially broke in on it — a good ways, too.

End 3rd, 0-0: Definitely disagree with the error being charged to Aviles on Gentry's ground ball. That was a tough hop, and would have been a very nice play had Aviles been able to get the speedy center fielder.

Aside from that, Buchholz looks to be settling in nicely — which is just what the Red Sox need. Now, the Sox hope the bats can give the right-hander some support, but the way the starting pitchers have been going lately, hopefully Buchholz can keep giving the team a boost.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: A couple very nice defensive plays for Texas there, between Andrus and Gentry. However, the Red Sox waste another opportunity insofar as they had the speedy Ellsbury on to begin the inning.

End 2nd, 0-0: Well, there's something you don't see very often. The beautiful thing about baseball are the sublte oddities and opportunities every game to see something you've never seen before.

So, we have to ask if Buchholz tired himself out covering first base on all three 3-1 putouts in that last half inning. PFP (pitcher's fielding practice) is one of the first things that happens every spring, and now you see why — so plays like that become rote mechanics.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Big wasted opportunity there for the Sox, who leave them loaded against the rookie Perez.

Clearly, when you have an opportunity to put runs on the board early against the prolific Texas offense, it's something you want to take advantage of — especially against a rookie starter.

The Sox ought to hope that doesn't give Perez the boost he needs to settle into a rhythm.

End 1st, 0-0: Some early fireworks in the game there, as Kinsler gets picked off at first and is subsquently shown a very quick hook by first base umpire Tim Tschida.

And that's not to mention that the Rangers second baseman got to first on a pitch up-and-in from Buchholz. We're not sure if that was a pitch with any intention behind it, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Speaking of Kinsler, does anyone else think he looks quite like actor James Franco? May have to put together a picture to illustrate this.

Mid 1st, 0-0: So here comes Buchholz, who's had one heck of an interesting season.

Over the course of the 27-year-old right-hander's first nine starts, Buchholz was, well, not very good. Over that period Buchholz somehow earned a 4-2 mark, but also yielded an opponents' OPS of .954 and 43 earned runs in those 49 1/3 innings.

However, as we noted earlier in this blog, Buchholz has put up a 2.63 ERA over his past seven starts, making him the Red Sox' hottest starting pitcher.

Which version shows up tonight? We shall soon see…

8:09 p.m. ET: We have first pitch! For those wondering, the temperature in Arlington, Texas is currently a very typical 94 degrees.

7 p.m. ET: Pedro Ciriaco has far, far outperformed expectations in Boston, raising his game as the Red Sox have leaned on him.

That being said, the Sox currently have a player with a career .656 minor league OPS over eight seasons batting second and filling the designated hitter role. That's a difficult thing to find a positive way to spin.

Boston's pitching woes have already been well-documented, but now the offense has sputtered a bit, too, with just 15 runs scored over the past five games. And that includes a seven-run effort against the Blue Jays in Sunday's loss. The other four games the Sox were held to a single run twice and three runs twice.

So, the team hopes that the lineup shakeup of largely just flipping Ciriaco and Carl Crawford, who now hits seventh in the order, will be the spark that the club needs. Taking on a formidable Texas offense — albeit one with a struggling Josh Hamilton — the Sox will need all the offensive help they can get.

Check out the lineups for both teams below.

Boston Red Sox (48-49)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Pedro Ciriaco, DH
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Cody Ross, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Mike Aviles, SS

Clay Buchholz, RHP

Texas Rangers (57-38)

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Michael Young, 1B
Nelson Cruz, DH
David Murphy, RF
Mike Napoli, C
Craig Gentry, CF

Martin Perez, LHP

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox are in trouble.

Say what you will about two wild cards or a couple of months being left on the calendar of the baseball season, but right now seems like an ciritical juncture in Boston's season. After being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays at home and then dropping the opener of 12 consecutive road games against first-place teams to the Texas Rangers, the Sox badly need a win to get themselves back on track — and back to the .500 mark.

Though the Sox' league-leading offense has generally not been a reason for the team's middling record thus far, it also hasn't done the team any favors during its weekend skid. Not that it likely would have mattered much, as Red Sox starters have given up at least five runs in each of the past four contests.

So, the Red Sox turn to Clay Buchholz (8-3, 5.19) to right the ship, and he's probably the best bet the team has at this point. After a rough start to the season, the 27-year-old has sparkled since, putting up a 2.63 ERA over his past seven starts dating back to May 27 — including missing nearly a month with a gastrointestinal illness. Buchholz will be opposed by Texas Rangers lefty Martin Perez (1-1, 5.54), who will be making just his third start on the year.

First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET, but you can check back in with our live blog tomorrow afternoon for lineups and any relevant info that comes along before the game, and you can also tune into Red Sox First Pitch and Red Sox Gameday Live on NESN beginning at 7.

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