Thursday, June 26, 2014

Buchholz Beats Mariners in Return

Buchholz improved his record to 3-4 and lowered his ERA below 7 with last night's start
Clay Buchholz gave the Red Sox a surprisingly effective outing last night in his first start in a month, helping Boston to a much-needed 5-4 win by getting 22 outs in their series finale with the Mariners.

Buchholz, who last pitched on May 25th before a hyperextended knee forced him to yet another stint on the Disabled List, needed just 76 pitches to get those outs, as he didn't walk anybody and struck out only two. But pitch count be damned, John Farrell lifted him in the bottom of the eighth shortly after Buchholz surrendered a leadoff homer to Brad Miller. Miller's bomb was Seattle's third off Buchholz and drew the M's to within a run. There was no need to push Buchholz any further; he had already done his job by putting the Red Sox in position to win and helping preserve the bullpen after a couple of ugly starts by Jake Peavy and John Lackey.

Farrell brought in Andrew Miller, who finished off the eighth by fanning pinch-hitters Willie Bloomquist and Cole Gillespie (not the stiffest competition, but whatever). After the Sox went down 1-2-3 in their half of the ninth, it was Koji-Time.

Until about a week ago the game would have been as good as over, but not with the way Uehara's walked the tightrope lately. His most recent run of appearances can be best described as adventurous, and last night was no exception. After retiring Robinson Cano, he gave up a single to the red-hot Kyle Seager, who notched his third hit of the day, then proceeded to walk Logan Morrison. (I don't know which was more improbable--Uehara walking his fifth batter of the year or Morrison drawing his seventh free pass of the season).

With Seattle threatening to storm back and tie the game, if not win the thing in walk-off fashion to sweep Boston, (how devastating would that have been?) Uehara bore down. He whiffed Mike Zunino, who'd gone deep earlier in the game, then closed out the win by getting Dustin Ackley to ground out out Brock Holt, who flipped to Uehara at first just in time to nab Ackley.

Shaky or not, Uehara got the job done, as did Buchholz and the top-half of Boston's order (1-4 hitters went 8-for-16 with four of Boston's five runs, two of which scored on David Ortiz's 449th career home run). In the end it proved to be just enough to defeat Hisashi Iwakuma and the streaking Mariners, and so the Sox were able to escape Safeco with a win before traveling back east for a weekend showdown with the Yankees.

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