ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays.
"I didn't know I could really do that.'' - Mookie Betts, who marveled at his throw from the right field corner which nailed Kevin Kiermaier -- attempting to stretch a double into a triple -- at third in the eighth inning.
"He's playing a huge role for us right now. He's stepped in, he's built his arm strength and given us almost 13 very strong innings the last two outings.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.
"I don't know that we ever lost faith in the talent of Clay. He was in a rut for quite some time. . . But the jolt that he's given us from the spot starts he's made, he's kept us rolling.'' - Farrell on Buchholz.
"You'd have to ask John about that. I have no idea. I've tried to make the most of (the opportunity) and if a decision has to be made, make it a hard one.'' - Buchholz, when asked if he's made a case to stay in the rotation.
* The Red Sox improved to a season-best 17 games over .500
* The win was just the fourth for the Red Sox this season when scoring two or one runs.
* The win was the first for Clay Buchholz as a starter since May 9.
* David Ortiz moved into sixth place on the Red Sox' all-time hit list, passing Bobby Doerr with 2.043 hits.
* Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games and has reached base in 16 straight.
* Andrew Benintendi recorded his eighth multi-hit game, the first Red Sox player to do so in his first 20 games since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007
* Mookie Betts recorded his 10th outdield assist, placing him third among major league right fielders.
* Craig Kimbrel has a 1.08 ERA in save situations this year and 6.06 in non-save situations.
* Kimbrel has recorded a save in each of his last five appearances.
1) Clay Buchholz
To say that this was Buchholz's best start of the season is to damn with faint praise, since there haven't been many good ones. But this was very good: 6 1/3 innings, one run on five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts.
2) Mookie Betts
Betts has only been a pro outfielder for a little more than two years, but that didn't look to be the case when he fired a strike from the right field corner to cut down a baserunner at third with one out in the eighth inning.
3) Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel was dominant in the ninth, protecting a one-run lead with two strikeouts and a soft lineout to left.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:
1) If this was the last start for Clay Buchholz, it was a good one.
Buchholz was brilliant in 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out a season high nine hitters.
After contributing little in the first four months of the season, Buchholz has helped out in a big way in the last four weeks -- first out of the bullpen and more recently, in three spot starts.
He's made sone adjustments with his release point, giving him far better command within the strike zone, and unsurprisingly, far better results.
Now, the question is: how will be used going forward?
2) Monday night, Andrew Benintendi thwarted the Rays in the late inning. On Tuesday, it was Mookie Betts's turn.
Benintendi's catch to rob Steve Souza Jr. of a two-run homer in the eighth was the highlight seen 'round the world. But it's possible that a throw from Betts was, in its own way, just as important.
Like Benintendi's magic trick Monday, this one took place with one out in the eighth inning. Brad Ziegler retired the leadoff hitter before Kevin Kiermaier chopped a ball into the right field corner. Betts chased down the ball as Kiermaier rounded second and headed to third.
The throw from Betts, from the right field corner, was a strike as Travis Shaw slapped a tag on the runner.
Forget, for a minute, the wisdom of someone already in scoring position attempting to take an extra base while trailing by a run and instead focus on the magic turned in by the Red Sox outfield in successive nights.
3) Robbie Ross Jr. has become a significant part of the bullpen.
Ross took over for Buchholz in the seventh, with lefty Corey Dickerson and righthanded-hitting Bobby Wilson due.
Ross overpowered Dickerson and got him swinging at a third strike before retiring Wilson on a routine bouncer to third.
It marked the fourth straight scoreless appearance by Ross in relief and ninth straight on the road.
Ross probably doesn't have the pure stuff to become the main option in the eighth inning. But he has had enough success to be someone that John Farrell trusts in some high leverage situations and matchups.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Three Red Sox pitchers, with various ailments at various stages of rehab, threw Tuesday afternoon, resulting in encouraging news for the club.
"All the throwing that went on today,'' said manager John Farrell, "was very positive. It was a very good work day in all three cases.''
Eduardo Rodriguez tossed 59 pitches in a simulated game arranged to test his strained left hamstring.
"He had no restrictions to his delivery,'' Farrell said. "He threw the ball with game-like intensity. That was a positive. We'll check and see how he is (Wednesday) before we make any kind of announcement how he'll slot back in (to the rotation). Today was a very good day for Eduardo.''
The plan is to have the lefty throw another bullpen Thursday morning, before the final game of the road trip.
"But given the history of things,'' cautioned Farrell, "we're going to take this one work day at a time. But it looks like we're making solid progress at this point.''
Rodriguez Saturday pulled himself out of a scheduled start for Sunday, insisting that he didn't yet have confidence in his hamstring, which he had strained last week in Baltimore.
"I was feeling a lot better,'' Rodriguez said. "For those three innings, I didn't feel nothing (with the hamstring) so I feel good. I was throwing the pitches and I don't feel nothing. I just have to wait for the next bullpen and see what decision they make about my next start.''
Rodriguez allowed that he was thinking about the hamstring in his first inning, but without any discomfort there, was able to pitch the final two frames without giving it any thought.
"I was just a little bit careful in that first inning,'' he said. "But after that it was normal.''
Even though the Red Sox seemed miffed with decision to remove himself from Sunday's start on 19 hours notice, Rodriguez doesn't regret making it.
"If I don't (make that decision),'' he said, "it was going to be ugly. It's better to miss one start (instead) of trying to be a man and get something wrong and be out for the rest of the season.''
Steven Wright, who has missed his last two starts after jamming his shoulder as a pinch-runner earlier this month, threw a 60-pitch bullpen and is "on tap'' to start Friday against Kansas City.
"Obviously, we'll see how tomorrow goes,'' Wright said. "But today, to get through that, it's big. (The shoulder) is still a little achy, but I get out on the mound, it doesn't really bother me. I think it's just something from not throwing consistently like I have been.
"It's one of those things you have to get through, kind of like at the beginning of spring training. But I don't think it will take me as long (to build back arm strength) because I've been throwing (all along).''
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was Koji Uehara, who has been out a month with a strained pec muscle.
"He threw with much more intensity than anticipated,'' reported Farrell. "It was a very positive day for Koji. Right now, our tentative plan is to have him throw bullpens every third day and we'll go bullpen-to-bullpen before determining what (comes next). Roughly speaking, three bullpens is the tentative plan. Where we are after that third one, we'll re-assess at that point.
"He finished with, I don't want to say it was 'game-like' intensity, but it was much more than anticipated. That followed 200-feet of long toss.