Monday, May 21, 2012
Red Sox Reach The .500 Mark For First Time Since April 30
The win was the ninth in the last 11 games for Boston and they reached the .500 mark for the first time since April 30. More importantly, their good stretch of play has allowed them to climb out of the AL East basement since now they're tied with the Yankees in fourth-place. Finally, this was also good for their psyche since the Orioles swept them at Fenway two weeks ago.
Buchholz ran into serious trouble in the third as he allowed four runs then and another in the fourth. He lasted 5.1 innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits with two strikeouts and four walks. On his 27th birthday, Andrew Miller (1-0) picked up the win after he was the first reliever for Boston. He recorded five outs with no hits and two strikeouts. I am shocked, he's been a totally different guy this season since he was called up.
Rich Hill allowed a run but Vicente Padilla bailed him out by getting the last two outs of the eighth. Alfredo Aceves locked up his 10th save with a 1-2-3 ninth. He's really settled into his new role as the closer after a terrible start.
To his good fortune, Buchholz was matched up with Tommy Hunter again (they faced each other at Fenway in the previous series). Boston had no trouble roughing up Hunter who went six innings but allowed five earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.
The Red Sox' already severely undermanned outfield suffered a further blow this afternoon when word came out that Cody Ross is likely to miss 6-8 weeks after breaking a bone in his foot. Ryan Sweeney is out with a concussion and could be put on the seven-day DL. Kevin Youkilis is expected to return to the team tomorrow which means that Will Middlebrooks will stay around too, the issue will be how to get their bats along with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz all in the same lineups.
Che-Hsuan Lin started for the first time in his MLB career, in right field, and he registered his first hit along with his first run.
Middlebrooks (3 hits, run, RBI) has done more than enough to prove he belongs but he had another big night just in case. Boston had 14 hits (every starter had at least one hit) as a team with Dustin Pedroia (2 hits, 2 RBIs), Mike Aviles (2 hits, run, RBI) and Daniel Nava (2 hits, run, RBI) all collecting multiple hits in the win.
Chris Davis (2 hits), last seen closing out the Red Sox in that absurd 17-inning win at Fenway, was the only Oriole to have more than one hit.
Aviles' RBI single in the third made it 1-0 Boston and Pedroia followed with a sacrifice fly.
Buchholz completely lost his command in the third as Baltimore scored its four runs on a walk, infield single, walk and a double play ball. Davis's (6th of the season) solo homer in the fourth gave the O's a 5-2 lead.
Ortiz got the rally started in the sixth with an absolute blast (442 feet) to right, a solo shot that was his 10th of the season. Nava added a run on a sacrifice fly and Middlebrooks tied it at five when he scored on Hunter's balk.
Boston put two more runs on the board in the seventh, thanks to Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Middlebrooks.
Matt Wieters had an RBI single in the eighth but Hill got Davis to ground out with two runners on. Padilla forced Betemit to fly out to shallow left and he struck out Nick Johnson to end the threat. Padilla has surprisingly become a very reliable set-up man for the Red Sox, he's stranded all 15 inherited he's faced this season.
A pair of young lefties meet tomorrow night (7:05 p.m., NESN) as Felix Doubront (4-1) faces Brian Matusz (3-4) in the middle game of this three-game series that could shake up the AL East.
UPDATE 5/22: Ross went on the DL and Scott Podsednick was called up from Pawtucket to take his spot in the outfield. Sweeney went to the seven-day DL for his concussion, Youkilis was activated and Dice-K was moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.