Judging by the way the first three innings went for Clay Buchholz last night, it looked like it might be a long night for him and the Boston Red Sox. But as the game continued, he got stronger and with the help of the bat of David Ortiz, Buchholz picked up his 11th win of the season in the 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
He still looked a little rusty early on, especially during the 2nd inning when he had to do his impression of Houdini-K to get out of a bases loaded no-out jam.
Buchholz started the inning by walking Hideki Matsui and allowing a single to Alberto Callapso. He followed that up by plunking Mike Napoli to load up the bases. But young Clay beared down and got Juan Rivera and Jeff Mathis to pop out to Kevin Youkilis at first and retired Erick Aybar on a fly out to left.
That inning seemed to give Buchholz the confidence he needed going forward. In the 3rd inning, he allowed two hits with his pitch count nearing 70. From that point forward though, he was virtually unhittable. He struck out the side in the 4th on his way to retiring eleven straight batters before a Rivera single in the 7th. He got out of that inning and handed over the game to the bullpen with a 2-1 lead and we all know how's that has gone lately.
Buchholz had good life on his fastball but it was his curveball and change up that really made the difference for him. You can see how he's matured over the last year as he probably wouldn't have been able to escape that bases loaded jam. But this is a new year and a new Clay who finally won't have to hear his name brought up in trade rumors.
Scott Atchison has been gaining the confidence of skipper Terry Francona over the past few months and it was shown last night as Tito brought him in for the 8th. Normally Daniel Bard would have been in but he had pitched the day before in Seattle and has been used a lot lately.
The move almost paid off but Atchison left a fastball out over the plate that Matsui cranked out of the ballpark to make it 4-3. Jonathan Papelbon finished it off with a four-out save.
Nonetheless though, it was a good win for the Red Sox last night, one they needed to keep pace with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. They got contributions from David Ortiz (two homers), J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez in his return to the lineup.
Now they'll hope John Lackey can pitch them to another win in his return to Anaheim tonight. We'll be back later with tonight's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups, any news and links from the day but for now enjoy the overnight links by hitting the read more button below.