Red Sox find timely hitting to beat Angels, 9-5

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Red Sox find timely hitting to beat Angels, 9-5

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox offense came alive Monday night against the Angels, erupting for six runs in the seventh inning a season-high for one inning beating the Angels at Fenway Park, 9-5.

If this game is remembered for anything it will be Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning against Jered Weaver. With the Sox trailing, 2-1, two outs and runners on second and third, Pedroia came to the plate. The Sox second baseman entered the at-bat hitting just four for his last 23 overall, and three for 25 in his career against Weaver. He worked Weaver for 13 pitches, including five straight 3-2 pitches. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder into center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out on the next pitch.

But Weaver (6-1) was done after that. It was his shortest outing of the season, and his first loss. His ERA jumped from 0.99 to 1.39. He went six innings, giving up three runs -- all earned, a season high -- on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

Clay Buchholz earned the win, improving his record to 2-3 (4.81). He went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a wild pitch. It was Buchholzs first quality start of the season.

Both Buchholz and Weaver entered Mondays game each having been scratched from their scheduled Sunday start because of illness. That was about where their fortunes this season diverged. Weaver entered the game the American League leader in wins, with six, ERA (0.99), strikeouts (49), opponents batting average (.163), and complete games (2). He posted quality starts in each of his six previous outings. Buchholz, meanwhile, had just one win to his credit with an ERA of 5.33, and no quality starts in his five previous outings.

But Monday night Buchholz and Weaver were virtually on even ground. Both pitchers threw quality starts. Buchholz went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits with two walks, two strikeouts, and a wild pitch. He threw 107 pitches, 66 strikes. He left with the Sox leading by a run.

The Sox offense, which has betrayed them so often this season, finally came around. The had 11 hits in the game, two shy of their season high. The nine runs match a season high. Batting with runners in scoring position has been a mark of futility this season, with the Sox batting just .212. Monday against the Angels they were 5-for-8 in such situations.

After a four-game sweep in Anaheim in April, the Sox are 5-0 against the Angels this season. They have outscored them Angels 29-10.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.