Clay Buchholz

Game 52 Recap: Red Sox 1, Twins 0

Backed by excellent pitching from Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara and just enough offense, the Red Sox earned a win to start their series with the Twins.

Top Play (WPA): In the bottom of the 7th inning with the score still tied at zero, the Red Sox scratched across the game’s only run, and did it all with two outs. Xander Bogaerts doubled to center, Sandy Leon then walked, bringing Rusney Castillo to the plate. Castillo battled Mike Pelfrey, eventually singling a 1-2 92 mph sinker up the middle scoring Bogaerts (WPA: + .180). Leon, with a poor base running decision, tried to go first-to-third on the single but was thrown out by Twins’ center fielder Aaron Hicks to end the inning.

Bottom Play (WPA): Coming into the game the Red Sox were third in baseball in grounding into double plays with 46. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez lead the team with seven, which had them tied for the fourth most in the game with ten other players. Well, last night Ortiz got his eighth and took the team lead in what was the game’s bottom play. In the 6th inning Dustin Pedroia led things off with a single, and then Mookie Betts advanced him to second with a single of his own. Ortiz then grounded into a double play, advancing Pedroia to third (WPA: – .139). Hanley Ramirez then flew out to the gap in left field on a ball that looked like it had a chance to do damage but the cold night knocked it down, ultimately ending the inning.

Key Moment: The next batter to come to the plate after Rusney Castillo had given the Red Sox the lead in the bottom of the 7th was the Twins’ Aaron Hicks in the top of the 8th inning. He drove a 1-1 Buchholz curveball to deep right field that appeared destined to knot the game at one. But Castillo comfortably tracked it back to the wall and hauled it in for the first out of the inning. Check it out here.

Trend to Watch: It has gotten to the point where Clay Buchholz cannot be lumped into any of the ‘Red Sox rotation is junk’ discussions. If you give him a mulligan for his April 12th start against the Yankees (3.1 IP, 10 R, 9 ER), his ERA drops all the way from the 4.33 it was going into last night to 3.16, which is much more in line with the 3.06 FIP (3.15 xFIP) he has this season. Buchholz has put together a really solid run of great starts. Here are his last five (including last night):

  • 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 2 BB, 8 SO

  • 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 BB, 4 SO

  • 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 SO

  • 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 11 SO

  • 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 HR, 3 BB, 3 SO

Unfortunately, in those five starts the Red Sox offense has managed run totals of 1, 1, 1, 1 and 6. With the latest bleak offensive showing last night Buchholz saw his number of 2015 starts with 0-2 runs of support increase to seven, which has him near the top of this season’s leaderboard. Ideally Buchholz continues his string of good outings (and generally solid season), and the offense starts pumping in some runs in support of his efforts.

Coming next: The Sox will wrap up their series with the Twins in a double-header tomorrow. In the first game, Eduardo Rodriguez will make his second big league start. He was excellent in his debut against the Rangers last Thursday. With another solid outing he could lock himself into a rotation spot for the foreseeable future. The Twins counter with Phil Hughes, who last time out against the Red Sox allowed four runs in 6.2 innings of work. The four runs were the Red Sox largest offensive output against these Twins last week. In Game 2 Rick Porcello will look to get back on track after his ugly outing in Minnesota last Wednesday in which he allowed six runs, and walked as many batters as he struck out (2). The Twins will send right-hander Trevor May to the mound to battle the Red Sox lineup. May sports a Red Sox-like 5.07 ERA, but a much more impressive 3.10 FIP supported by his 41:9 K:BB ratio. Sweeping the double-header would be a good way for this team to keep things moving in the right direction.

Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images

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