May 16, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (64) reacts after he strikes out in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
So, the Sox found a new way to lose tonight: on a balk.
It was actually a very encouraging start for Clay Buchholz, who seemed to build on his last start with five innings of two-run ball striking out five batters and allowing just the one walk.
Unfortunately, there's also a balk mixed in there, and it came with two outs and runners at the corners. The run scored, and Jose Molina struck out immediately thereafter to end the inning. With the game ending 2-1, it was the clear difference between a nine-inning loss and having a chance to win it in extras.
The other run came in the fifth when Buchholz allowed a pair of leadoff singles and was quickly yanked for Andrew Miller. Miller would end up giving up a sacrifice fly that should have just been an out were it not for a stumble from Cody Ross as he lost the ball some in the light. Given the single that followed, however, the run would have come across anyways.
The real trouble was the offense, which had its share of bad fortune (a second inning that could have had four hits ending with just one) and bad play. It's the first time in a while that they haven't scored at least four, but the Rays will do that to you with their annoying defense. Tropicana seemed especially cavernous tonight, with plenty of long fly ball outs and no homers.
So there's that. The winning streak comes to an end in Tampa Bay, and the Sox will have to win tomorrow to stay reasonably close to .500. Still, a good outing from Clay is perhaps more important than the actual result.