After being out with an injury for 94 days, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz returned to the mound last night against the Tampa Bay Rays. He had an amazing 9-0 start to the season, and last night, he threw 74 scoreless pitches to push the Sox to a 2-0 win, making his record now 10-0 with a cool 1.61 ERA. It’s not only great to see him back and pitching like a beast as he was before, but this win further helped Boston towards their first division title since 2007 (which is also the last time they won the World Series). Another baffling aspect of this Sox shutout is that it was against Rays pitcher David Price, who is one of the best in the league (and was the best in the AL last year, with the awards to show it).. and he even threw a career-high 127 pitches trying to give his team a chance.
The Sox have 16 games left in the regular season, and if they win 10 of them, they are guaranteed to win the AL East. Currently, they’re 30 games over .500 and their lead over the Rays is back to 8 ½ games. The 2007 season is the only other one since 1995 where the Sox have been that far ahead. On August 24, the Rays were barely ahead of the Sox, but since then, they are a league worst 4-12, while the Sox are a league best 12-3. If statistics and trends play out as they should, the Red Sox will win the AL East.
Also worth noting, Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara continues to dominate out of the bullpen. His scoreless streak is now 28 ⅓ innings and he’s been perfect in 17 of 19 saves this year (including eight straight). That’s the longest by a Sox reliever since Dick Radatz went 33 straight scoreless innings in 1963.. That’s 50 years ago! He is extremely consistent.. His first 11 pitches last night were all strikes! With his help, the Red Sox are making themselves known as having one of the best pitching staffs in the league.
[9/12/13 Update:] Last night Uehara played for his second day in a row. Once again, he had a quick 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts and a ground out. It was his 11th consecutive perfect inning since August 21. Going back to his previous appearance on August 17, he’s retired 34 straight batters setting a new Red Sox record. Previously, Ellis Kinder held the record of 32 straight batters retired, a mark that was best in franchise history and held up for 61 years!
After going 69-93 last year under Bobby Valentine’s terrible management, this year’s success was completely unexpected. They are currently 88-58 with a .603 winning percentage (which is only .001 behind the league leading Atlanta Braves). This is a comeback year for the ages. I think the new Sox manager John Farrell is a big part of it, but there’s more. The new cast of players this year has made a big difference. We got rid of the expensive and underperforming guys (last year) and brought in a bunch of guys who have not only played very well, but have been very likable and fun to watch. The other big contributing factor to this success is our pitching staff. Mainly, starters Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have had fantastic years. Further, as noted above, reliever Koji Uehara is on a ridiculous roll and will likely be our top closer. Additionally, Jake Peavy, who we got at the trade deadline, has been a solid starter and a good addition. Lastly, I want to mention Ryan Dempster. While he hasn’t quite done what these others have, he is definitely good. Plus, he gets tons of brownie points for plunking Alex Rodriguez a few weeks ago.
The Bruins are my favorite team, and the Patriots are a close second. Still, I’m absolutely loving this Red Sox team. I find myself watching about every other game, and at least checking the score on the others, when in the past I would only watch maybe ten games per regular season. This team has made a huge comeback and it’s only getting more exciting as we approach October. I hope everything plays out the way current trends are pointing. That would mean that we win the AL East and have a decent chance of getting to and even winning the World Series. My eyes are now glued to the Red Sox, and if you’re a Boston sports fan who isn’t watching them, I highly recommend it.
Here’s a video recap:
Thanks for reading,