While most of New England's eyes were watching the Boston Bruins eventually fall to the Washington Capitals in overtime last night, the Boston Red Sox were trying to complete a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins on the road. And as you might have expected, they definitely made it interesting to say the least.
Clay Buchholz was staked to a 7-1 lead entering the 6th inning but by the end of the inning, Red Sox Nation was once again questioning the bullpen along with Buchholz.
After Buchholz struck out former Little League World Series hero Sean Burroughs, three straight hits by the Twins brought in a run. Then Buchholz would walk the bases loaded and exit the game for Scott Atchison. Unfortunately for Atchison, the hit by Joe Mauer went off of his leg into center and allowed two more runs to score.
Justin Thomas came in for Atchison and promptly gave up a double to Justin Morneau which plated another run cutting the Red Sox lead to 7-5. Thomas then nailed Chris Parmelee in the head with a fastball. Visibily shaken, Bobby Valentine removed Thomas from the game and brought in Matt Albers who gave up a run-scoring single to Trevor Plouffe. But then Albers escaped any further damage as he induced a double play ball by Burroughs to end the inning.
From there, Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales set down the next six batters providing a little order to things. But then Alfredo Aceves decided that watching the Bruins lose in overtime wasn't exciting enough for fans of both of the Bruins and the Red Sox.
He got the leadoff batter Danny Valencia, who replaced Parmelee, to ground out. He walked Plouffe, then allowed a single to pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit. Then he got Ben Revere to ground out to first base on a questionable fair ball. Upon looking at multiple replays, the ball appeared to be foul. One could say that finally a break went for the Red Sox.
So with two outs, Aceves decides that he's going to hit Alexi Casilla in the thigh with a fastball. No biggie, bases loaded, two outs, up one run. Aceves redeemed himself though and brought relief to a rabid fanbase by striking out Denard Span.
Buchholz still is struggling as evidenced by throwing 107 pitches in just 5 1/3 innings. He needs to figure out things quickly because as good as the Red Sox offense might be, there's no way they can produce anywhere from 5-10 runs a night to support their starters. He basically abandoned his changeup last night but his curveball was better than it had been. Still though, his command is lacking a consistent feel to it and until he straightens that out, it could turn into a long season for the young righty.
It's obvious the bullpen is struggling right now. There is help on the way though.
After throwing two nights in a row with great results, Rich Hill is more than likely ready to contribute to the Red Sox. It won't be tonight though since he has thrown in two straight games. My best guess is that the move happens tomorrow since Thomas probably won't be available to pitch anyways.
Something also tells me that Daniel Bard's final start of the season will come tomorrow night. Of course that might depend on how he pitches and how Felix Doubront does tonight. With Aaron Cook's opt-out date looming large, one of those two is likely headed to the bullpen. Obviously, the one who makes the most sense is Bard.
Offensively, Dustin Pedroia had a nice little night with three hits. Mike Aviles may have gone 1-for-4 but his one hit was a big one, a three-run blast. Adrian Gonzalez knocked in a run with a single while Jarrod Saltalamacchia increased his hitting streak to four games with a two-run single.
Before leaving the game with a sore knee, Cody Ross had a run scoring hit as well.
So with the Red Sox offense coming around, it's time for the pitching, both starting and the bullpen, to do their job. Even with winning those three games, if everything clicks starting tonight, it could go a long ways towards starting a nice long winning streak and getting things back on track.
We'll be back later with today's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links from the day. So for now, let's take at look at the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
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Red Sox eke out a win [Boston Globe]
Buchholz needs to get it started [Boston Globe]
Crawford is seeking answers on elbow [Boston Globe]
Red Sox finally sweep [Boston Herald]
Red Sox trying to recapture that championship feeling [Boston Herald]
Bullpen sweats out save [Boston Herald]
A different clubhouse [Boston Herald]
Carl Crawford will visit Dr. Andrews [Boston Herald]
Where has Clay Buchholz’ changeup gone? [Clubhouse Insider]
Sox hold off Twins for 7-6 win, series sweep [CSN New England]
Red Sox bullpen bends, but doesn't break, in relief of Buchholz [CSN New England]
Valentine: Buchholz was 'very much improved' [CSN New England]
Rapid reaction: Red Sox 7, Twins 6 [ESPN Boston]
Thomas on beaning: 'Hope he's doing all right' [ESPN Boston]
Clay Buchholz shows improvement in Boston Red Sox win [ESPN Boston]
Bonus babies pan out [ESPN Boston]
Closing Time: Red Sox hold off Twins to earn sweep [Full Count]
Byrd finding his timing thanks to Magadan [RedSox.com]
Crawford to have elbow examined by Andrews [RedSox.com]
Ross tweaks knee, aims to play Thursday [RedSox.com]
Valentine shuffles lineup after making snafu [RedSox.com]
Padilla feels tightness in left side, says he's OK [RedSox.com]
photo credit: AP Photo