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It was a shaky start for Clay Buchholz Sunday night against the Yankees at Fenway Park. He needed 22 pitches, just 14 for strikes, to get through the first inning. The right-hander walked Curtis Granderson, the first batter he faced. With Alex Rodriguez, the next batter, at the plate, Buchholz’s errant pick-off attempt allowed Granderson to advance to third. Rodriguez’s groundout to Stephen Drew at shortstop scored Granderson. Perhaps this would be the game in which Buchholz’s unblemished record would fall and his stellar ERA would rise. Instead, Buchholz – given a 3-1 lead by his offense after the first inning – made some adjustments and shut the Yankees down the rest of way. He still struggled with some command issues – four walks, to tie a season high, a wild pitch, and a hit batter – but he contained the Yankees batters, limiting them to two hits and the one run – unearned – over six innings, to earn the win, as the Sox thrashed the Yankees, 9-2. Buchholz improved 11-0 lowering his ERA from 1.61 to 1.51.
CSNNE | Buchholz improves to 11-0 after solid outing
Orel Hershiser noted throughout the ESPN broadcast how much trouble Clay was having with his command, leaving a lot of pitches up. They showed one montage of Buchholz pitches that missed either the side of the plate he was aiming for, or have his shoulder go flying open and the pitch come in at eye level.
But Buchholz was able to correct his mistakes in the moment and get hitters out, leading to his six scoreless innings.
It's very encouraging to see. We knew Clay wouldn't be the same after three months off, but to see him finding ways to be effective while building his confidence puts the team in a good position heading into October. Despite the troubles, he's still undefeated (if that means something to you), and his ERA remains well under two. If he had pitched this way and not taken three months off in the middle of the year, he'd be running away with the Cy Young award.
The Yankees are now officially out of the division race, and the Rays aren't far behind. If the Red Sox are to be as successful in the postseason as they've been in the regular season, they'll need Buchholz to keep this momentum going.
Speaking of the Rays, on page 2, let's check in on our friends in Tampa.
This was a tough one for the Tampa Bay Rays to lose.
With reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price on the mound facing a Minnesota team hadn't beaten them since last year, the Rays blew a three-run lead and wasted a chance to overtake Texas for the AL wild-card lead.
Not exactly what the Rays wanted heading into a four-game series with the Rangers that opens Monday.
"We've had way too many missteps already this year. That's what's got us in this position," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after watching Joel Peralta allow eighth-inning homers toRyan Doumit and Josmil Pinto in a 6-4 loss Sunday. "We have played well enough to have a much better record. We haven't closed the deal."
ESPN | Rays waste 3-run lead, lose to Twins 6-4
Nice going, boys!
CSNNE | Red Sox complete sweep of Yankees with 9-2 win | Globe | Buchholz continues to build in second start | Red Sox continue roll with sweep of Yanks | Red Sox win 9-2, eliminate Yankees from AL East race | A-Rod leaves Red Sox game with tight right calf | Herald | Clay Buchholz adds to club's confidence | 1st class Fenway honors for Mariano Rivera | Daniel Nava doesn't fade out | Sox sweep Yanks, drop magic number to four | ESPNBoston | Sox unceremoniously sweep Yanks out | Clay Buchholz improves to 11-0 as Red Sox rip Yankees | Mariano on farewell: 'Humbling' | Nava (4-for-5) continues to amaze | Farrell: Rivera "set the standard" for closers