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Home » April 2010 Game CommentsApril 2010 » Pitcher’s Jewel

Pitcher’s Jewel

Terry Francona must have been reaching for the Maalox in the first inning when Clay Buchholz allowed the leadoff hitter Fred Lewis to reach on a single up the middle. There was some measure of relief when his youthful starter secured the next two outs, but that was quickly shattered with the crack of Vernon Wells’s bat. The home team gained the early edge and Buchholz walked Lyle Overbay, the next batter, on five pitches.

Not the ideal beginning after a game that emptied both teams’ bullpens. If this game were to suddenly turn into anything resembling last night’s barnburner, Jonathan Van Every might have to toe the rubber as he did in a blowout last season. Seeing Buchholz labor through two-thirds of the lineup in the bottom half of first, I didn’t think he could endure to pitch the minimum for a decision.

But Buchholz not only lasted the minimum but turned in the best performance by a Red Sox starter this season. His line of 8 innings pitched, 7 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts was only matched by his opponent Shaun Marcum’s 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 3 bases on balls, and 5 punchouts.

Marcum’s only slip came in the top half of the second. He battled David Ortiz for nine pitches before relinquishing a free pass. Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida singled consecutively, tying the game 1-1.

The tension in the air was only broken by the Celtics’ convincing defeat of the Heat, 96-86. The basketball team was putting on the finishing touches on their first-round dismissal of Miami just as the Red Sox commenced a rally in the eighth.

Dustin Pedroia (the second shortest player on the Red Sox as long as Fabio Castro is on the 25-man roster) and Victor Martinez knocked in back-to-back singles and J.D. Drew walked to load the bases. Cito Gaston called on right-hander Kevin Gregg and Francona had Mike Lowell pinch hit for Ortiz. Like having to move Tim Wakefield to the bullpen, it was one of those moves that was easy to accept intellectually but difficult to stomach emotionally.

The maneuver worked. Gregg walked Lowell on four pitches, pushing the winning run across the plate. The threshold was crossed literally and figuratively: the Ortiz/Lowell platoon is an inescapable reality.

Game 21: April 27, 2010
WinRed Sox
2W: Clay Buchholz (2-2)
S: Ramon Ramirez (1)
2B: J.D. Drew (3)
Blue Jays
1L: Scott Downs (0-3)
2B: Vernon Wells (10)

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