With the wheels continuing to fall off the Tampa bandwagon (2-6 in their last eight games), Boston has slowly, steadily, come up right behind them. With Boston's convincing 10-1 win in Toronto last night the Sox are just 3.5 games behind the Rays for the AL wild card spot. And just five back of the Yankees for the AL East lead.
Boston's latest gain was thanks in large part to Buchholz, who pitched a fantastic game. His velocity was high and consistent, and his control was outstanding. His record now stands at 13-5 on the year and he leads the AL with a 2.49 ERA. Clay has been a pleasant surprise in a season mostly full of bad breaks.
It also helped to have Bill Hall and Adrian Beltre drive in a bucket load of runs each. Hall had two homers and four RBI while Beltre had one homer and three RBI. I was down on Hall for a while because of his glove. But he is swinging the bat well enough to mitigate any fielding issues. And with more guys coming back from injury, Hall will start less and that will reduce any fielding issues even more. Beltre has been a revelation and has created an interesting off-season issue for the Sox. Is this season indicative of future performance, or is this another 2004 season where Beltre plays great and follows it up with multiple average seasons? What the Sox decide here will determine a lot about how their off-season goes.
Despite giving up two hits, Dustin Richardson looked good in relief. He threw the ball hard and had good location (two strikeouts) in his one inning of work. I think the plan to solve Boston's bullpen issues internally is working thus far. Doubront and Richardson have been getting the job done.
This afternoon is the final game in Toronto before a final three-game set in Texas to finish this road trip. Lackey takes the mound with only one win in his last seven starts. And in more news, Saltalamacchia will get his first start of the year. It will be interesting to see how Lackey pitches to a new catcher.