Clay Buchholz turned in a magnificent start to continue Boston’s winning ways.
Top Play (WPA)
The Red Sox won the game, but the Rays won the top WPA play contest. Which is more important? That’s for the reader to decide. Boston had a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth inning, with Corey Dickerson on second and two outs. Kevin Keirmaier came through with one of the few big hits off Buchholz on Tuesday, smacking a double in right field (+.133). Dickerson scored on the play, and the Rays were within one.
For the winning team, the top play came way back in the third. With the team already up by one, Mookie Betts hit a single down the right field line (+.124). David Ortiz chugged his way from first to third in the typical David Ortiz running style. Steven Souza saw an opportunity to gun down the slugger trying to take an extra base, but missed his mark and the ball went into the dugout, allowing Ortiz to score. The run ended up being the winning tally.
Bottom Play (WPA)
Buchholz was outstanding in this game, and didn’t really give the Rays many real chances to do any damage. They did have a chance to at least tie the game in the sixth, when they were still trailing 2-1. Brad Miller lead the inning off with a walk, and it seemed like it could be the inning that Buchholz fell apart. Instead, he induced a 6-4-3 double play from Tim Beckham (-.131) and cleared the bases. He ended up getting out of the inning facing just three batters.
Buchholz is Making His Case
For the third straight turn, the Red Sox turned to Buchholz to make a strong start and he came through. This was easily his best start in the short stint, as he struck out a whopping nine batters while walking just two. He had his fastball working, consistently getting whiffs with the pitch sitting in the low-to-mid 90’s. To go with that, he had what he called his best changeup he’s had all season. He’s now allowed just five runs over his last three outings with 13 strikeouts and five walks. With this successful start, he’s making a case to stay in the rotation despite the impending returns of Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez. This outcome is far-fetched, of course, but it speaks to how valuable he’s been when the rotation needed a strong spot starter.
Craig Kimbrel is Still Good
It’s been fair to call Kimbrel something of a disappointment this year, particularly lately. His control has certainly been spotty, and fans have been justifiably worried when he enters the game. He locked things down tonight, though, facing four batters including two Ks. It was his fifth straight outing with a save and the same number of games without allowing a run. Even with the lackluster results, he has a 2.69 FIP and is striking out over 14 batters per nine innings. The rest of the bullpen is a concern, but the ninth inning is extremely comfortable.
Mookie Betts Is Incredible
Tuesday was the second straight game in which a corner outfielder came through with a huge defensive play in the late innings. This time, it was Betts, who showed off his arm. It’s not the typical way the star shows off his talents, which made it all the more amazing. I’ll just let the video do the talking.
The Red Sox and Rays continue their series in Tampa on Wednesday night, with Rick Porcello taking the hill against Matt Andriese. The latter has been solid, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen this year, though he’s pitched to a 7.11 ERA since re-joining the rotation at the start of the month. The former has been the definition of solid and is looking for his 18th win. #AdvancedStats. First pitch is at 7:10 ET.
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