With Clay Buchholz pitching on a big league mound for the first time since June 8, many didn't know what to expect, especially since before going on the disabled list he had a 9-0 record and a 1.71 ERA. Buchholz didn't miss a beat as the right-hander threw five shutout innings leading the Red Sox to a 2-0 win over the Rays in Tampa Tuesday night.
Buchholz, making his first start in three months due to a neck strain, was very impressive in his five innings of work, not allowing a run, scattering three hits and striking out six. He was removed from the game after the fifth keeping to his pitch count throwing 74 pitches. The Sox will look to ramp him back up in his three remaining starts before the postseason. Craig Breslow gave the Sox two innings of scoreless relief, before Junichi Tazawa recorded the first two outs of the eighth followed by Koji Uehara earning a four-out save. Uehara has now retired 31 straight batters dating back to Aug. 17.
The Rays got a solid outing from their ace David Price limiting the Red Sox to two runs and three hits over eight innings, but that would be all the offense they would need. The Sox scored both runs in the fifth -- the first coming on a Jonny Gomes single scoring Mike Napoli then Gomes later scored on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia sacrifice fly.
The teams will continue their three-game set tomorrow night (7:10, NESN) where Ryan Dempster will take on Alex Cobb.
What they'll be saying: Obviously the story of the game was the impressive start by Buchholz. He had good command of all his pitches, particularly his changeup. His fastball was between 91-92 MPH, but it was only his fourth start since June as he had three minor league rehab outings. He is working his way back to full strength, both length and power wise and is on track to get three more regular season starts, which should put him in a good position going into the postseason ... The Red Sox are now 8.5 games up with 19 games left to play for the Rays, which pretty much locks up the division. Pretty impressive for a division race that was very tight just a few weeks ago as the Red Sox have played some of their best ball of the year, while the Rays have done the opposite.