Red Sox Live Blog: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox’ Offense Fail to Execute as Angels Roll 7-3

by NESN Staff

August 22, 2012

Red Sox Live Blog: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox' Offense Fail to Execute as Angels Roll 7-3Final, Angels 7-3:
Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri did their jobs, retiring the Red Sox to clinch the win for the Angels. Daniel Nava came in to pinch hit for Pedro Ciriaco, but both he and Scott Podsednik struck out.

Jacoby Ellsbury came through with his first hit of the night, squeaking a single to left after battling to a full count. But then Frieri came in and, after hitting Dustin Pedroia, got Adrian Gonzalez to fly out to end another tough loss for the Red Sox.

Boston (59-65) had its bright moments tonight, but ultimately the Sox couldn't get it to the next level. Clay Buchholz threw a few serviceable innings but just didn't have the dominance he's shown in recent games. And while the offense was collecting hits, the Boston batters have to score the players they get on base at a much better rate. Ten hits is nothing to sneeze at, but just three runs from that is a sign of some bad execution. The Red Sox left 10 men on base altogether tonight.

The Sox will get another chance at the Angels (64-60) tomorrow night. C.J. Wilson (9-9, 3.62 ERA) will face off against Franklin Morales (3-4, 3.67).

We'll have pregame excitement for you starting at 6, with first pitch due at 7:10. Check in with our live blog for news and analysis throughout the game.

Mid 9th, Angels 7-3: Mark Melancon cleans out the side, and the Red Sox are due up for their last chance to snatch a victory in this one.

End 8th, Angels 7-3: Little bit o' spark there, eh, Red Sox?

Dustin Pedroia broke the abysmality (yes, I'm going with that word) that was the night for himself, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. He now has the lone hit among the trio, and he did one better by swiping second base on his second steal of the night.

Cody Ross also got on the board, lashing a double that — thanks to a suspect play in right field by Torii Hunter — scored Pedroia. That's why you take the extra base and work for the extra steps — they can become runs sometimes, even for the hard-luck Sox.

Ross is a great fit for this team — much like Nick Swisher has been for the Yankees, as I wrote earlier tonight. Does that mean Ross is also in the running to get a Jayson Werth contract? OK, that's a reach. But he has been great for the Sox this year.

Alas, though, Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out (no longer news). Ryan Lavarnway drew a walk, but Mike Aviles flew out to end the inning.

Mark Melancon is in for the ninth for the Red Sox.

Mid 8th, Angels 7-2: Junichi Tazawa has worked his way through another inning.

He fanned Mike Trout with a big strikeout to hold Chris Iannetta on base after his two-out triple.

We head into the bottom of the eighth, with the Sox having just six chances to overcome the five-run deficit.

End 7th, Angels 7-2: Jered Weaver has done his work today, and he has done it well. Minus that two-run hiccup in the fourth, he's cruised through seven innings, giving up seven hits and striking out five. He's also tossed 102 pitches, and with LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen, his night is likely over.

That's good news for the Red Sox, who wilted again that inning. Scott Podsednik managed a single, but Jacoby Ellsbury again came up short, leaving him on base.

Mid 7th, Angels 7-2: Junichi Tazawa made quick work of the Angels in that one. He has a strikeout and a couple of groundouts to his credit.

End 6th, Angels 7-2: That's another weak inning for the Sox. Both Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out, and Ryan Lavarnway grounded out to end the inning.

Mid 6th, Angels 7-2: Now, I don't want to get things thrown at me, but if a player reaches the bag before the ball does, he is safe. OK, Red Sox fans?

(The Fenway Faithful were pretty ticked after an Adrian Gonzalez scoop at first was not credited as an out, but that wasn't even close.)

That inning may have been it for the Red Sox. Torii Hunter drove in two runs on a bases-loaded single. The Angels left two men on base, but they have a nice cushion now and the clear edge at the plate.

8:57 p.m.: If watching the Red Sox makes you sad, helping people out through the Jimmy Fund can always make you happy.

8:56 p.m.: Clay Buchholz is getting a fine hand from the Fenway crowd as he leaves the game.

He got his act together a bit, but he clearly wasn't on top of his game tonight, as he has been so many times this season. Junichi Tazawa will come in to try to keep this one close, with the Angels now up 5-2 thanks to a one-run bomb by Howie Kendrick.

Buchholz went 5 1/3 on 82 pitches but allowed 12 hits and five earned runs. Those are May-like numbers for him, and if you've followed the Sox at all this season, you know that means it's time to cue the doomsday music.

End 5th, Angels 4-2: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez are just wretched tonight.

The three, who should be holding this lineup together, just went down 1-2-3. They're a combined 0-for-9 tonight.

Mid 5th, Angels 4-2: The defense comes through again.

Buchholz was in trouble for a minute there with men on second and first (thanks to a walk and a single, with both runners advancing on a long fly to right-center).

But Pedro Ciriaco made a great play on a high chopper to third, firing it home to get the lead runner. Buchholz then finished his business, getting Kendrys Morales to fly out.

Buchholz has appeared to calm down, and he's only thrown 71 pitches. Junichi Tazawa has been warming up in the bullpen since the start of the fifth, though.

End 4th, Angels 4-2: Hey, the Red Sox are listening. That was a powerful inning.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.225) and Ryan Lavarnway (.125), who are both just terrible on offense right now, were the ones that got it going this inning. Saltalamacchia drilled a single, and Lavarnway brought him home on a double.

Then Mike Aviles got in on the show, pounding a double out to left field that new arrival Vernon Wells badly misplayed. He went up against the scoreboard for a catch but was off by a foot or two. By the time the ball skittered into the outfield, the Sox were on the board again.

Pedro Ciriaco also got the crowd rejuvenated by running out a single to first. He didn't score, but the Sox had enough fire in that inning that they're likely not out of this one yet.

The offense gave Buchholz a boost — let's see if he can settle down and get back to his former mastery of the Angels.

On an injury note, the word is that Albert Pujols left the game with "right calf tightness."

8:20 p.m.: Some intrigue at the Fens. Mark Trumbo has shifted to first base, with Vernon Wells taking his spot in left. Who was the first baseman, you ask? None other than Mr. Pujols, who has left the game. He's 2-for-2 tonight, with a double and a would-be double.

Pujols appeared to be slowing up in the basepaths last inning with what may be a hamstring injury. That's not good news for an Angels team that needs all the firepower it can get in the homestretch.

Mid 3rd, Angels 4-0: This is starting to really look like the Angels' game. Buchholz's past success doesn't mean much tonight.

Buchholz just couldn't keep them off the board in that inning, and the Red Sox' missed opportunities from previous innings will loom even larger now that Buchholz isn't shutting the visitors down.

Albert Pujols hit a legitimate double this time around, and Mark Trumbo singled him home. While the Sox defense did come up with a nice nab of Trumbo as he tried to steal second, the hits just kept coming. Howie Kendrick doubled, then Maicer Izturis connected hard on a single to score him.

Buchholz's pitch count isn't getting too high, but the Angels are really connecting on the balls they hit. The Sox need to fight back quick to get in this one.

End 3rd, Angels 2-0: Scott Podsednik keeps working away. He added a single in that inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia failed to scored him and Mike Aviles (who reached on a leadoff walk). Both Ellsbury and Pedroia flew out.

Jered Weaver hasn't been sterling tonight, but he's found a way to work through the Sox' order.

Mid 3rd, Angels 2-0: Maicer Izturis popped a hit to lead off that inning, and he got a small collection of claps from the Fenway crowd, which has quite a few Angels rooters in it tonight. Otherwise, the park has some empty seats, although more have filled in since first pitch.

The Angels had their way in that inning, getting two runs on three hits. The pivotal moment was when Chris Iannetta (the catcher, batting in the No. 9 spot), drilled a single on a full count. He sent the first run home and prolonged the inning so his teammates could do more damage.

Buchholz has been getting hurt mostly on strikes or pitches to the right side of the plate. Then again, almost all of the called balls are to the left or low. He's working both sides — the hitters are just nailing everything on the right.

End 2nd, 0-0: That's a weak side for the Red Sox. Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both grounded out, and Ryan Lavarnway popped out to first.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Remember that one time Clay Buchholz threw nine pitches and retired the side on strikeouts? Yeah, that was his last start. Enough awesome there to bring it up again.

Buchholz was less invincible in this inning, but he still notched a strikeout of Mark Trumbo and a couple of flyouts. Rolling, rolling, rolling.

End 1st, 0-0: Those wily Red Sox are getting themselves on base. This inning was a good effort. Next inning? Maybe some runs.

Scott Podsednik looked like a good choice to start and lead off again, popping a single to right. After Jacoby Ellsbury erased the runners by hitting into a double play, Dustin Pedroia won two nice calls from the umpires to both get to first (on a passed ball after a called third strike — the televisioners will notice that he should have been called out) and to steal second.

The effort doesn't get any runs, but the Sox have gotten to Weaver early — always a good sign.

Mid 1st, 0-0: That was a great inning for the Red Sox, from the pitching to the putouts.

Scott Podsednik validated the decision to start him in left field with a great throw to nab Albert Pujols at second base. Pujols really licked that ball into the left-field corner, but Podsednik put it on the money to take him out on a throw to Mike Aviles. Pujols would have been better advised to stick with a long single.

Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia also combined on a great play, catching Mike Trout (no pun intended).

When Bobby Valentine was asked about Trout's speed before the game, he said he wouldn't know what to say until he saw Trout have to really run one out. He just got his chance in this inning, as Trout hit a laser up the middle and had to try to beat out a throw by Pedroia after Pedroia ranged over to the second base bag on a great play. The Red Sox won this footrace, with Trout out — just barely.

While I can't tell you if Trout is that much faster than the next guy, I will say that his hit up the middle was quite the poke.

Clay Buchholz looked as good as promised in the top of that frame. He's rifling them in there, with a Torii Hunter strikeout to boot.

Also, I saw Pujols in real life for the first time today. As usual with MLB players, I was surprised to see he was smaller than I imagined. He was about the size of my dad — if my dad had giant muscles giving birth to baby muscles all over.

7:11 p.m.: We've got a first pitch!

5:30 p.m.: Bobby Valentine said Daisuke Matsuzaka has been looking good, but he wouldn't say when Matsuzaka would pitch if he were to take a start this weekend. Most speculation has Matsuzaka bumping Aaron Cook, who did not fare well last night, from his next start.

Valentine also had some kind words for Clayton Mortensen, who has looked strong when called upon for the Sox this year but has often been sent down soon after his outings due to roster needs. Valentine called Mortensen "consistently good" and batted away questions of whether Mortensen could one day be a good starter.

"I don't think you necessarily build championship teams by taking relievers and making them starters," Valentine said. "Championship teams need bullpens, too."

After what happened with Daniel Bard this year, that may be nice for Mortensen to hear.

Valentine also referred to the injury situation this year — and Mortensen yo-yoing between the leagues — as "wacky."

3:55 p.m.: If you're wondering how the Red Sox have fared against Jered Weaver, it's not a pretty picture. Pedroia is just 4-for-25 (that's .160), Saltalamacchia (2-for-9) and Aviles (2-for-6) have had just two hits, and Podsednik (1-for-10) and Punto (1-for-9) have hit him just once. Adrian Gonzalez may be the best bet, going 3-for-7 (.429), and Jacoby Ellsbury is 5-for-18 (.278) against him. Only Pedroia and Ellsbury have seen him more than 10 times.

The Angels haven't been much better against Buchholz, though. Kendrys Morales is 4-for-5, and Maicer Izturis has been 6-for-18, but everybody else is hitting him at a .250 rate or less. These are small sample sizes, anyway. The real number you want is how Buchholz has performed against the Angels in his career — and he's decent in that regard. He has gone 5-2 with a 3.95 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels. Weaver, meanwhile, is just 2-5 with a 4.41 ERA in 11 starts against the Sox.

Another little nugget: Tonight is Buchholz's 100th major league appearance.

5:25 p.m.: And your Angels lineup:

Mike Trout CF
Torii Hunter RF
Albert Pujols 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Mark Trumbo LF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Maicer Izturis 3B
Erick Aybar SS
Chris Iannetta C

Jered Weaver P

3:45 p.m.: This is who the Red Sox have starting tonight:

Scott Podsednik LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Cody Ross RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Ryan Lavarnway DH
Mike Aviles SS
Pedro Ciriaco 3B

Clay Buchholz P

3:30 p.m.: It's about three and a half hours before game time at Fenway Park, meaning we have guys in baseball-related attire wandering onto the field. It's a warm day in Boston, perfect weather for baseball — and Jimmy Fund donations.

Today is the last day of the Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon, and everyone from local volunteers to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to Red Sox players and staff have been pulling out the stops to raise money to beat cancer. Be sure to check out some of the stories we've been telling to hear what the Jimmy Fund does. If you want to make a donation, today is the last day to do so.

Otherwise, we'll be cooking up some baseball for you, too. Check back here for more updates as we get going.

8 a.m. ET: Plenty has gone wrong for both the Red Sox (59-64) and Angels (63-60) this season. Both were picked to contend for their divisions. Both had big-name stars filling out their lineups and rotation. But both have played middling ball at best and have to fight through their final weeks for any hopes of making the playoffs.

Of the two, the Angels have had a slightly better season, going on a hot streak or two and seeing Albert Pujols finally fulfill some of his multimillion-dollar promise. But the Angels will need a lot more from Pujols (.278 batting average, .340 on-base percentage, .527 slugging; 28 home runs, 85 RBIs) and company if they want to rise far above .500 and overcome both Texas (71-51) and the surprising Oakland A's (65-56) for the American League West title.

In the wild card race, though, the Angels have a bit of a lead on the Red Sox, and that's where the attention will be Wednesday night, with Boston far behind the American League East-leading Yankees (72-51), Rays (68-55) and Orioles (67-56). The Sox will look to even the series with the Angels after losing Tuesday night 5-3.

Both sides will send their best to the mound Wednesday to fight for the latest precious game. For Boston, Clay Buchholz (11-3, 4.19 ERA) looks to continue his role as savior for a rotation that has been anything but good this year. Buchholz had by far the worst start on a team full of poor performances, but he has righted himself to the point that he's not only the Sox' best but also one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball since his turnaround. In his first six starts of the season, Buchholz gave up 33 earned runs. Since then, he's allowed just 32, for a 2.48 ERA since May 6. He's pitched 116 innings since his last outing in that horrid stretch, striking out 73 and going 8-2.

The Angels are offering up Jered Weaver (15-3, 2.74) on Wednesday, though. He's done nothing but dominate this year, throwing a no-hitter and ripping off nine wins in a row at one point. He's been good all over, throwing a complete game or two and striking out 108 batters this year in 141 innings of work while giving up just 105 hits.

Both teams have plenty to fight for, and both will offer plenty to watch starting Wednesday at 6 p.m. Tune in to NESN to get the scoop before the game, then follow the live blog for analysis throughout.

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