BOSTON -- TheRed Sox' Era of Good Feeling lasted a little less than 24hours.
Instead of being able to build on theirOpening Day win over the Yankees, the Sox on Saturday got yet anotherhorrific performance from their starting pitcher -- Clay Buchholz(right) wasthe culprit this time -- along with less-than-airtight relief fromFelix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves. In addition, they returned to theirwasteful ways at the plate (1-for-15 with runners in scoring position).
The result? A 9-4 loss that dropped their recordfor the season to 1-7.
As bad asthe hitting numbers may seem, it was Buchholz who dug the hole. Heallowed 11 baserunners (eight hits, three walks) in 3 23 innings, andleft the game trailing 5-2.
The horse had long sinceleft the barn, but TimWakefield worked two perfect innings at the end, and -- consideringBoston's pitching woes so far -- raised questions as to whether or nothis role will be enhanced going forward.
Player of the Game: RussellMartin
Rebuffed by Cliff Lee and never in the hunt for CarlCrawford, the Yankees' signing of the ex-Dodger star was regarded asone of their consolation prizes (Rafael Soriano was the other) in lastwinter's free-agent market. But he was no consolation to the Red SoxSaturday, as he had the second two-homer game of his career and tiedhis career high with four RBI.
His first homer, inthe third inning, was a three-run shot off Clay Buchholz that increasedthe Yankee lead from 2-1 to 5-1. And he provided the baseballequivalent of spiking the ball in the end zone with a solo blast offAlfredo Aceves in the seventh for the game's final run.
Hard to find much honor in aloss as lopsided as Saturday's, but Pedroia continues to sparkle inwhat has been a dim Red Sox season to this point. He cracked threedoubles Saturday (lifting his average to .355), scored a run, drove intwo, and turned in defensive gems like the one at left on MarkTeixeira's sixth-inning grounder.
Pedroia got hisfirst double leading off the third and came around to score ongroundouts by Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, cutting the Yankees'lead to 2-1. In the next inning, he ripped a two-out, two-run doubleoff the center-field wall -- the Sox' only hit with runners in scoringposition all afternoon -- that again brought Boston to within one run,this time at 5-4. The Sox bullpen couldn't hold it there, so by thetime Pedroia got his next double, leading off the ninth, the outcomehad long since been decided. But nothing bad that happened Saturdaycould be blamed on him.
The Goat: ClayBuchholz
Red Sox starters have thrown a grand total of 21 scorelessinnings in eight games so far this season -- 9 by Jon Lester, 5 byBuchholz, 3 each by Josh Beckett and Daisuke Masuzaka, and 1 by JohnLackey -- and Buchholz continued that disturbing trend Saturday. (Statcourtesy of Bill Chuck of billy-ball.com.)
He held the Yankees scoreless in order in thefirst, thanks in large part to a laser throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchiathat nailed Derek Jeter on a steal attempt. But he gave up two runs inthe second on an RBI grounder to Nick Swisher and run-scoring double byEric Chavez. Then, after the Sox had cut the Yankees' lead to 2-1, hestarted the fourth by walking Curtis Granderson, allowing anotherdouble to Chavez and surrendering the first of Russell Martin's twohome runs, making it 5-1.
Buchholz' final pitchingline: 3 23 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 3 walks, 2 strikeoutsand 92 pitches thrown.
The Turning Point
Despite their generalinability to get hits with men in scoring position, the Red Sox werehanging with the Yankees through three innings. When the Yanks wentahead, 2-0, they cut it to 2-1. When New York made it 5-1, they cameback and cut it 5-4.
But after Nick Swisher led off the top of the fourth with asingle, Curtis Grandersonwrapped a two-run homer around Pesky's Pole (left), putting the Yanksright back in front by three at 7-4. And that seemed totake the wind out of Boston's sails. The Sox didn't score another runthe rest of the way, and the Yankees got solo home runs from RobinsonCano in the sixth and Russell Martin in the seventh for the 9-4 final.
Stat of the Day: 385
That's how many homeruns the Red Sox are on pace to allow this year. (Stat courtesy of BillChuck of billy-ball.com.)
Impossible,you say? Do the math. They've allowed 19 in 8 games, a pace of 2.375homers per game. Multiply by 162, and you get 385. (Okay, okay, 384.75.Close enough.)
(The team record for most homerssurrendered in a year, incidentally, is 190, set in the juiced-ballseason of 1987.)
It would make scenes like the oneat right from yesterday -- fans in the Monster Seats reacting to a homerun -- pretty familiar.
Quote of Note
"Id probably have to say the RedSox. I would like towin a World Series in the National League, so the Phillies are inthere, too. But for the time Im going to be playing, I think Boston ismore suitable so that I can retire with the Boston Red Sox and go tothe Hall of Fame with the same hat."
-- Pedro Martinez, tellingthe New York Times he'd like to come back and pitch for a contender in2011. He says he'll be ready in "a month, amonth-and-a-half," and that the Red Sox are his firstchoice.
And, you know, the notion isn't asridiculous as it might have seemed eight gamesago.
Art Martone can be reached at email@example.com.