I thought that last night's pitching matchup was a good one for the Sox. I figured that even if Clay Buchholz got tagged for four or five runs, the Sox could get that off of Minnesota's Scott Baker. What I didn't expect was for Clay Buchholz to pitch brilliantly in a 3-2 Boston win. Over eight innings, Clay made a convincing argument that he is the second-best pitcher on this squad right now, trailing only Jon Lester.
Buchholz went eight innings and allowed just two runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked one. He threw 65% of his pitches for strikes and first-pitch strikes to 17 or the 28 batters he faced. And his pitches were moving; that fastball was tailing away and looking fantastic. With the win Clay goes to 5-3 on the year and lowered his ERA to 3.26. But the most important thing that this win established is that Clay Buchholz can pitch, and win, against the better teams in the majors.
Now, you could point to his win over the Tigers on May 14 and say that, but he only went 6.1 innings in that game. Here he went a full eight and still threw seven fewer pitches than he did against the Tigers. This was also his best K/BB ratio in a win. He had struck out 10 and walked one against the Rangers in April, but lost that game 3-0. Hell, in about half his starts he has walked more batters than he has struck out. So to post numbers like these...it's a big deal.
Right now, there are two pitchers you can rely on and they're named Buchholz and Lester. Buchholz has the best record and ERA of any starter, Lester has the best WHIP and strikeout total. I don't think it's a correlating fact that they are Boston's two youngest starters, but it's nice to know they'll be here for a while.
The other big story from last night is the continuing revitalization of David Ortiz. Last night he went 1-4 with a two-run blast. That was his eighth homer of the season and the fourth in his last six games. He's now in the Top 20 in the AL for home runs. So right now, all the people that said he was done or on the verge of being done (and I think I can be included in the latter group) can sit down to a nice meal of humble pie. Papi is getting it done as DH and looks damn good right now.
Tonight it's Lester and Liriano. Should be a good matchup and if both pitchers perform to their talent, it'll be a low-scoring close one as well.
A non-game related item. A few days ago I talked about up-and-comers in Boston's system. One of them was Portland Sea Dogs pitcher Felix Doubront. I said he would like get a call-up to the Bucket sometime this summer. Well, summer just arrived. I really feel that Doubront could be a starter for Boston as soon as next year if his development continues at the same pace. But that would depend on there being space in the rotation. Maybe he could be the spot-starter for his first year. Either way, it is good to see Doubront getting his chance now to prove himself at the next level. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, they call up to Portland to take his place. Fabian Williamson is pitching well for Boston's single-A affiliate in Salem, VA. He's 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA. His teammate, Stolmy Pimentel, has similar numbers but is a year younger. My guess would be Williamson because he's a lefty like Doubront.