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August 12, 2007
Buchholz proves his worth in PawSox 6-3 victory
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When he’s at his best, Clay Buchholz is all but unhittable. And even when he’s not, he’s pretty darn good.
Last night against the Syracuse Chiefs, Buchholz displayed a bit of both, which was good enough to help the Pawtucket Red Sox notch a 6-3 win before 6,621 at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Joe McEwing (3-for-5) and Jed Lowrie (2-for-4) paced the Pawtucket attack each knocking in two runs as the PawSox won their third straight.
Buchholz (1-1) issued just two walks in his five-inning stint, one of whom eventually scored.
He also allowed just three hits, but two of those were solo shots over the right field fence.
“I think he’ll (admit),” said PawSox catcher Kevin Cash, “that he wasn’t as sharp as he would have like to have been. Stuff wise, he probably had bits and pieces of it. But that shows how talented he is.”
The young phenom, making just his sixth Triple-A start, was often overpowering. He struck out nine hitters (for the third straight outing), and earned his first win since his July 11 promotion from Double-A Portland.
“It’s really refreshing,” said McEwing, the gray haired veteran of the youthful Buchholz, “to see a guy who can dominate a game. To see the maturity and adjustments that he makes, game to game. Today, he might not have had his best stuff, but they still only had three hits.”
Run scoring singles in the second by Alex Prieto and Ed Rogers off Syracuse starter Josh Banks (10-9) put Pawtucket ahead, 2-1.
Next inning, McEwing cracked a lead off double, then was singled home by Lowrie.
Pawtucket then opened up a 6-2 lead, when McEwing smacked a two-run double, then was singled in for the second time by Lowrie.
“If you have quality at bats,” said McEwing, “and you play to win, everything else takes care of itself.”
It may have taken him a while, but Buchholz slowly hit his stride.
In the third, he gave up a lead off homer to Sal Fasano followed by a single to Ryan Roberts before striking out the side.
Buchholz retired the first two batters in the fourth before allowing a lead off shot by former Red Sox prospect John Hattig. He struck out Fasano, but the ball bounded away allowing Fasano to reach safely.
But closed out the inning by freezing Roberts with a 94 m.p.h. fastball.
“The outcome was great,” said Buchholz. “But in the same sense, I didn’t have everything I had in the last couple of starts. But by the time the fourth inning rolled around, I knew what I had in my pocket, and I went after them with that.”
Buchholz closed out his 80 pitch performance by retiring the Chiefs in order, striking out the last two he faced.
A trio of PawSox relievers, Craig Breslow, Javier Lopez, and Bryan Corey, took it from there, allowing just runner over the final four frames.
AROUND THE BASES: McEwing has pretty much owned Banks this season, going 7-for-8 against him, with four doubles and a homer to go with two singles. “It‘s just one of those things,” said McEwing. “You have success against one guy, while another guy could own you. It‘s a very humbling game.”…Only once before in his young professional career had Buchholz given up two homers in one game. That came last year while he was pitching for Low-A Greenville…Syracuse manager Doug Davis was tossed out in the fourth inning by umpire Kevin Causey after Davis argued a close play at first base…The PawSox will wrap up their stay, here, tonight (7:00 p.m.), when RHP David Pauley (6-5, 3.94) will draw the start against Syracuse RHP Mike MacDonald (4-8, 4.93).
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:10 PM to PawSox
Game Story: Gagne victim of another tough loss
BALTIMORE — It wasn’t supposed to be this way, of course.
When the Red Sox obtained Eric Gagne in a trading-deadline move on July 31, the plan was to make every game a six-inning contest.
Have Boston’s excellent starters go six innings, have the offense get a lead and then turn it over to Hideki Okajima for an inning, Gagne for an inning and Jonathan Papelbon to close it out over the final inning. Game over.
Well, this plan hasn’t quite worked as it was drawn up. It has been game over — but it’s the other team that’s winning at the expense of the Red Sox bullpen as Boston’s once seemingly insurmountable lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East has shrunk to a scary four games.
That, at least, is what happened again yesterday when Boston relievers torched a win for Curt Schilling in falling to the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, on a three-run homer by none other than ex-Cowboy-Up Soxer Kevin Millar with one out in the 10th inning.
Millar’s blast came off Kyle Snyder, but the culprits yesterday were Okajima and, more chiefly, Gagne, who was tagged for a tying two-run homer by Miguel Tejada with one out in the eighth on the seventh straight fastball he threw to the Baltimore shortstop in the at-bat.
It was the second time in three games here that Okajima (who issued a leadoff walk in the eighth) and Gagne conspired to blow a lead. The duo, again chiefly Gagne, wasted a four-run advantage in the eighth in a game the Orioles won, 6-5, on Friday night.
And in both losses, the Red Sox’ best reliever — Papelbon — didn’t get into the game. In each case, Boston manager Terry Francona elected not to use Papelbon in a tie game on the road, hoping to be able to bring him in with the Sox ahead and a save on the line.
That scenario failed to materialize in both games, so Okajima surrendered the game-losing run Friday night and Snyder, who is on the bottom rung on the Sox’ relief-corps ladder, was victimized on a bunch of hanging breaking balls.
“It’s a situation where, obviously, you want to be in there. There’s no doubt about that,” said Papelbon, who notched a three-pitch save in Saturday’s game as the Sox wound up 4-5 on the three-city road trip.
“But you have to trust the program and what we’re trying to do as a team and what Tito wants to do,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing to sit, but we’re a unit in the bullpen. We thrive off each other. We root for each other. The team asks a lot of us and we ask a lot of ourselves. [What happened in Baltimore] is unexpected. But it’s baseball. You have to deal with the bad and the ugly. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you better. That’s my philosophy.”
Gagne, meanwhile, doesn’t have to be reminded that his performances — he has allowed seven earned runs in four innings spread over his five Boston appearances for a 15.75 earned-run average and one blown save — have been killing the Red Sox.
“This is getting ridiculous. We should have won three out of three here and I blew two of them. They brought me here to do the job, and I’m not doing it. These guys played eight great innings and I go out and blow it. It’s a shame. I’m letting everyone down,” snapped the former All-Star closer, clearly upset with himself and again gamely facing the media, as he did Friday night, unwilling to offer up any excuses.
Gagne inherited a runner at first and one out when he entered the game. Boston had a 3-1 lead. Okajima had issued a leadoff walk and Nick Markakis had beaten out the back end of a double-play attempt, bringing Tejada to the plate, representing the tying run. And seven pitches later, Tejada was the tying run.
Gagne fell behind, 2-and-0, and just kept pumping in fastballs. The last three came in at 94, 95 and 96 mph, the last of which ended up in the seats in left-center, tying the game at 3-3.
“He fell behind in the count,” said Francona, trying to explain away the fact that Gagne didn’t go to any of his other pitches. “He’s a very dangerous hitter and he caught up with one.”
Gagne, who made some mechanical adjustments after an hour of studying video on Saturday, wasn’t impressed by the speed of the pitch.
“I don’t care if the (radar) gun says it was 120 mph. I’m not making my pitches. I’m messing it up for everybody,” said Gagne, who threw only curveballs and changeups in getting the next two hitters after Tejada’s blast.
Hanging curveballs proved to be Snyder’s undoing, too. Speedy Corey Patterson almost had to jump out of his shoes for a high hanger in lining a leadoff single to center in the 10th. Snyder went to the slide step to keep the speedy Patterson (32 stolen bases) close, and left a fastball up for Markakis, who drilled it to center, sending Patterson to third.
Snyder retired Tejada on a foulout to first but, after Markakis swiped second, the right-hander, who had Millar flailing at a curveball on the previous pitch for a strike, left another up and Millar lofted it for the game-winning homer.
“I put my myself in a situation where I had to get a strikeout there and had to go to a strikeout pitch for me, but I hung it,” said Snyder softly of the 2-and-2 pitch. “I tried to be careful, but I ended up hanging it.”
And thus it was that Boston’s long road trip came to a somber end, but, Sox fans, don’t panic, says reliever Manny Delcarmen, who gave up a hit but fanned three in the ninth inning.
“Just relax,” said Delcarmen, a Boston native. “We’ll be fine.”
Posted by Chris Venditto at 8:58 PM | Permalink
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Starting Lineups, Aug. 12
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 11:35 AM | Permalink