Yesterday, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz pulled up lame in the top of the second inning against the San Francisco Giants, slightly hyper-extending his left knee running from first to second base after collecting his first Major League hit.
The Red Sox were still trying to digest the broken foot star second baseman Dustin Pedroia suffered the night before when they were forced to watch Buchholz walk with a significant limp down the dugout steps and into the clubhouse. Now, they had to find a way to piece together eight innings of relief. They did, and brilliantly, something I did not expect.
Boston won as seven relievers combined to toss eight innings of two-run ball.
In Sunday's game, the final of their series with the Giants, the relief core was given a well-deserved rest by Jon Lester . The offense that knocked around National League aces Roy Halladay and Ubaldo Jimenez over the past few weeks tagged another usually dominant pitcher. Tim Lincecum was roughed up, allowing a solo shot to David Ortiz that MLB.com Video: Ortiz's solo blast" target="_blank">splashed into McCovey Cove in the first, two runs in the second, and one more in the third. Having thrown 79 pitches, and uncharacteristically walked four batters, he was replaced.
Just as the Red Sox bullpen did before, the Giants’ performed admirably after his short exit. Boston was ahead 4-1, and San Francisco allowed just one more run over the remaining six innings. But the Red Sox advantage was more than enough, as Lester performed as San Francisco expected Lincecum would.
Lester allowed a first inning run and nothing else. The Giants couldn’t handle his repertoire: his biting cut fastball, his deceptive changeup, and his loopy curveball. He kept his pitch count low, worked out of jams when he needed to, kept the hitters off-balance, and ultimately cruised to toss a complete game , in which he allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out nine.
Boston needed this effort from Lester who, after a rough start to the season, continued his magnificent performance on the mound to record his ninth win and lower his ERA to 2.68.
But, dampening his outing, the team suffered their third blow of the series, as hot-hitting catcher Victor Martinez went down, fracturing his thumb . He took a foul tip off the bat of Pablo Sandoval off the thumb in the second inning, then took another from Andres Torres in the third, ending his day behind the plate.
It is definitely unfortunate that injuries have hit Boston, but they keep on winning in spite of them. Buchholz may make his next start and Martinez is on the disabled list for hopefully a short stint. But Pedroia, who was fresh off a five-hit, three-homer game against the Colorado Rockies, is expected to miss up to six weeks.
The offense picked up in his stead in the series finale, as replacement Bill Hall had two hits, scoring and driving in a run. Just as Lester picked up the slack for a weary bullpen, Hall stepped up with one of their better hitters on the shelf.
Boston, now 41-26 and only a game-and-a-half behind the New York Yankees in the AL East, will need more production like they received against the Giants, and if they do, they will surely be in the divisional race for the long-haul.