April 20, 2011: Red Sox 5, A's 3

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April 20, 2011: Red Sox 5, A's 3

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

OAKLAND, Calif. -- For a team that hadn't been able to score -- let alone win -- on the road, the Red Sox picked a curious opponent against whom to break their streaks.

Winless on the road before Wednesday and held without a run in their last 20 straight road innings, the Sox broke out against Oakland A's lefty Gio Gonzalez -- who had allowed one run in his first three outings combined -- and went on to beat the A's, 5-3.

After the A's nicked Clay Buchholz (1-2) for a run in the first, the Sox countered with five runs, four off Gonzalez. Carl Crawford chipped in with run-scoring single in the second and Kevin Youkilis gave the Sox their first lead with a solo homer in the fourth.

White-hot Jed Lowrie belted a two-run homer in the sixth before a solo homer from J.D. Drew against the A's bullpen closed out the scoring.

Daniel Bard inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam from Buchholz in the sixth and stranded all three runners. Bard pitched 1 23 scoreless innings.

Bobby Jenks gave up a run in the eighth and left the bases loaded for Jonathan Papelbon, who fanned David DeJesus for the final out of the eighth.

Papelbon then yielded a run in the ninth before closing out his third save of the year.

Player of the Game:
Clay Buchholz

Buchholz didn't get as deep as the Red Sox would have liked -- leaving with one out in the sixth -- but he did limit the A's to a single run after 5 13 innings and earned his first win of the season.

In so doing, he also gave the Red Sox their first road win of the year and, though his outing failed to qualify as a quality start, became the fifth straight Red Sox starter to limit the opponents to one or no runs.

Honorable Mention:

Jed Lowrie

The legend continues. Lowrie got the start at third base and kept right on hitting. Robbed of extra bases in the second, he singled in the fourth and belted a two-run homer in the sixth, turning a one-run Red Sox lead into a three-run cushion.

For the season, Lowrie has 11 RBI, leading the team, though he didn't play much in the first nine games of the year.

The Goat:
Coco Crisp

Crisp had a very up-and-down day for the A's, knocking in two runs (solo homer, RBI single in eighth) but also stranding seven baserunners in his other at-bats.

Turning Point:
Bard puts out fire

Daniel Bard came into the game in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out, starter Clay Buchholz having walked the previous two hitters and reaching 103 with his pitch count.

Bard got Cliff Pennington swinging for the second out of the inning, then retired Coco Crisp on an inning-ending flyout to left.

Bard went on to pitch a scoreless seventh inning, too, proving his worth as a reliever who can come in to leveraged situations and bail a team out.

By the Numbers:
1.15

In the last five games, Red Sox starters have compiled a 1.15 ERA, with none of the starters allowing more than one earned run. Not surprisingly, the Sox are 4-1 in those five games.

Quote of Note:

"That was the game right there . . . That's what he's there for. He's a big weapon for us.'' -- Terry Francona on Daniel Bard

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays.

 

QUOTES:

"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.

 

NOTES:

* 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.

 

STARS:

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.

 

First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

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First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

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.