When Steven Wright got injured running the bases, everyone jumped on John Farrell for putting him in a situation where he could get injured and go on the disabled list. Red Sox Nation was preparing to riot as they assumed that Clay Buchholz taking the ball every five days meant an automatic loss, just as it had in the beginning of the year. Nobody thought there could be any positive outcome, yet we’ve received a pleasant surprise in Wright’s absence.
We have seen the reemergence of Clay Buchholz as an effective starting pitcher. After Tuesday nights performance, I would say he may even be dominant. Tuesday night we saw vintage 2013 Clay Buchholz who will strike you out regardless of whether you're a lefty, right, power hitter, slap hitter, fat, skinny, smart, stupid, whatever! Buchholz struck out 9 batters in just 6 ⅓ innings, while giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 walks. This statline may not seem all that impressive at first, but watching the way he was able to go out there and throw the ball where he wanted to was just dazzling. Clay was able to dot the corners and get big outs when he really needed to. Believe it or not, with Wright set to return on Friday, Buchholz is going to have to head back to the bullpen. How they choose to utilize him is going to be an interesting storyline to follow going forward. Can he be a 7th or even an 8th inning guy? Maybe. Will they try to keep him in the roll of long relief to keep him stretched out for spot starts? This is also possible. All we know now is that they are going to do something to utilize him now as opposed to letting him sit in the bullpen and rust.
The Sox did go on to win this game 2-1 thanks to a tremendous throw by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 8th. After hitting a blooper that rolled down the right field line, Rays Center Kiermaier decided to try and use his speed to make it to 3rd base with 1 out. Kiermaier clearly did not get the memo that you do not run on the Red Sox outfield and was ABSOLUTELY HOSED at 3rd base. This kept the bases empty in a 2-1 game that was still anyone's for the taking at that stage. I would’ve been more likely to guess I was watching Dwight Evans throw than a former second baseman. People forget Mookie’s contributions do not just come with his bat. Betts is also a great defensive talent that all other 29 teams should beware of.
The Red Sox offense was quiet Tuesday night as they only musted up 5 hits. What gets me excited about this is that two of those hits came from rookie Andrew Benintendi. He has continued to tear it up at the major league level and I do not see myself as anyone who will get sick of him anytime soon. The Sox have now gotten Tampa Bay’s young talented starters out of the way in the first two games. There is nobody left in this Rays rotation that they should be afraid of. However, speaking of pitchers that should be feared, Red Sox ace Rick Porcello takes the mound Wednesday looking for his 18th win of the season. If Clay Buchholz can do it, anybody can do it. It’s time for Porcello to get another W to keep pace in the standings. With Baltimore and Toronto both winning, the AL East standings will remain the same for another day. The Sox can't afford to just hang around, they need to continuously gain ground in the East because they are not nearly trustworthy enough for me to bet on them in the Wild Card game.