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Houston, We Have No Problem

Thursday, April 25, 2013 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 7, Astros 2

After being swept in a doubleheader by the Royals, the Sox won two of three from the A’s.  On Thursday they started a four-game set with the newest member of the American League, the Houston Astros, who switched over from the National League this season.  It was my first night game, and the time was a strange 6:30 start, so I had to leave work early to make it there in time.  (What was weird was that this was the only week in April where they had earlier start times – the first week had had night games at the familiar 7:10.  I think the reasoning was that with the weather still being cold, starting earlier while it’s still daylight for a few innings would help.  I personally don’t find it any warmer, just harder to get there from work.)  It ended up being 64° at the start of the game, but as soon as the sun went down it got cold, so I was glad I had brought all my cold-weather gear.

Clay Buchholz had another strong outing.

Clay Buchholz had another strong outing.

The pitching matchup was Clay Buchholz vs. Philip Humber, two pitchers who have thrown no-hitters in their careers.  (Buchholz’s no-no was in 2007 in his second major league start; Humber threw a perfect game last April.)  But in the current season, they couldn’t have come into the game any differently, with Buchholz sporting a 4-0 record and an ERA of 0.90, and Humber at 0-4 and 6.63.  The first inning was in keeping with those trends.  Buchholz worked quickly through a scoreless frame, and then the Sox hitters followed with a barrage of hits that got them off to a 4-0 lead.  Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Carp, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all had hits to drive in runs.

Jacoby Ellsbury runs in to field a hit in the fourth inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury runs in to field a hit in the fourth inning.

The Astros did manage to scrape together a run in the second (coming in on a double play) and another in the third (on two hits, in between which Buchholz struck out the side).  It just shows how well Clay’s season was going that he could allow only 2 runs in 7-2/3 innings, and have his ERA actually go up (it skyrocketed all the way to 1.19).

Big Papi continued his hot hitting since coming off the D.L. the previous weekend.  He hit his first homer of the year into the center field stands in the third inning, and finished the night with 3 hits, 3 runs, and 2 RBI.  The Sox put together another 4-hit attack in the fifth to score two more runs and finally knock Humber from the game.

Andrew Miller, minus his formerly flowing locks, came into the game in the eighth.

Andrew Miller, minus his formerly flowing locks, came into the game in the eighth.

Jonny Gomes replaced Mike Carp in left field at the start of the eighth, and made his presence known right away.  Andrew Miller, who had cut his signature long hair after a bad outing earlier in the week, came in to relieve Buchholz with two outs and a runner on first.  The batter hit a ball deep to left, and Gomes made a leaping catch before banging into The Wall on his way down.

With the Sox holding a 5-run lead in the ninth, Daniel Bard got to make his first appearance of the year.  He had been sent to Double A to work on his mechanics, as he tried to work his way back to being the dominant reliever he once was before a failed experiment as a starter in 2012.  It was probably going to take more time, but with Joel Hanrahan on the D.L. and callup Steven Wright having pitched a lengthy relief stint a couple of days ago, Bard was called into service.  He had an encouraging appearance – there was a harmless two-out single, but he struck out a batter and induced a comebacker to the mound which he fielded cleanly for the final out of the game.  My record at Fenway this season improved to 3-1, with all 3 wins coming in games started by Buchholz.  I guess he’s just going to have to pitch all the rest of the games I go to this year!

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