Red Sox vs. Yankees: 3 Up, 3 Down for April 3
In the first night game for both teams on Wednesday, the Red Sox's bullpen stole the show, but this time the star was starting pitcher Clay Buchholz.
The Boston offense was again productive—collecting seven runs and although Sox batters didn’t draw as many walks as they did in the opener, they continued to work the count and forced New York pitchers to throw 177 pitches over nine innings.
Here is my three up, three down for the second game of the 2013 season.
Three Up: Clay Buchholz looks strong
After Jon Lester needed 96 pitches in five innings of the season opener, Clay Buchholz needed just 94 pitches to get through seven Wednesday night.
Buchholz had control of his fastball all night which helped him stay ahead of the count.
The weather was a factor with Peter Abraham of Boston.com saying, “The conditions made it difficult to command his curveball, but he compensated with two-seam fastballs inside to left-handed hitters and changeups to right-handers.”
While some think that Lester is the most important pitcher, I believe that Buchholz, who has the higher ceiling of the two, is more important to the 2013 team.
Three Up: Jose Iglesias Continues to Hit
After three fluky hits on Monday, Jose Iglesias carried the momentum into the second game with a single, a double and a run scored.
The double stands out since the three hits on Monday were all infield singles.
Iglesias will never strike fear at the plate, but if he can be a serviceable hitter in addition to being arguably the game’s best defensive shortstop, it will be difficult to put him on the bench.
Three Up: Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava
Shane Victorino went 2-for-6 with three RBI batting out of the two-hole In his Red Sox debut.
In Game 2, John Farrell dropped Victorino down to the seventh spot, but the 32-year-old continued to hit, going 2-for-5 while driving in another run and scoring for the first time in a Red Sox uniform.
Daniel Nava, who supplanted Victorino as the No. 2 hitter got off to a hot start by going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Nava is an important piece this season for Boston, particularly against right-handed pitchers.
Unless Jonny Gomes proves he can hit righties on a regular basis, expect to see Nava get the bulk of the starts when the Red Sox face a right-handed starting pitcher.
Three Down: Will Middlebrooks Continues to Struggle
I don’t give Will Middlebrooks a complete pass in Game 1, even though he played with a fever.
If a player convinces his manager he is healthy enough to play, then he needs to perform. I wasn’t concerned with just one poor performance.
However, after two games, Middlebrooks is 0-for-8 with two walks and four strikeouts and that stat line is cause for concern.
Even if Ortiz returns within the next two weeks, Middlebrooks is an integral part of the Red Sox offense.
If Middlebrooks doesn’t repeat his 2012 performance, with few power bats in the lineup, Boston could struggle to score runs this season.
Three Down: Andrew Miller’s Control
Even though Andrew Miller walked two batters in the season opener, I wasn’t overly concerned because Miller gained his composure and went on to strike out the next two batters.
However, Miller hit the first batter he faced in the second game and Robinson Cano hit a hard liner that, luckily, was hit near a fielder for an out.
The 27-year-old lefty is an important piece in the bullpen and needs to fix his control problems or else he may lose his job to Craig Breslow when he is healthy.
Three Down: Alfredo Aceves struggles in season debut
After a rocky spring, Boston reliever Alfredo Aceves needs to get off to a good start.
In his first appearance Aceves gave up a single to the first batter he faced and a three-run home run against the third.
I know it is just one game, but with all the baggage associated with Aceves and other arms capable of taking his spot, there is a small margin for error for the 30-year-old right-hander.