Red Sox 5, Rays 0: Clay Buchholz flirts with history, delivers series win

Jim Rogash

Clay Buchholz held the Rays hitless through seven innings, helping the Red Sox down the Rays 5-0 Sunday afternoon.

The Red Sox secured a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays with a 5-0 shutout win behind a tremendous performance from Clay Buchholz.

From the beginning, the Red Sox did not look like a team that was going to have trouble with Alex Cobb. Loud outs from Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino led into a two-out single from Dustin Pedroia in the first, and the Sox found a pair of two-out baserunners in the second. Neither frame would lead to a run, with Mike Napoli flying out to right in the first and Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting a line drive to deep right that just didn't find the gap, but it was clearly a matter of when the Sox would get to Cobb, not if.

As it happened, "when" ended up being in the very next inning. Three straight singles from the top of the Boston lineup--Victorino's coming on a bunt--would load the bases for the Red Sox without an out on the board, bringing Mike Napoli to the plate. While Napoli hasn't exactly looked like a cleanup hitter thus far this year, his swing in the third was certainly deserving of the spot, producing a high fly ball to dead center that would have been out in just about any park, but still managed to catch the deepest part of Fenway's wall for a double.

Napoli's big hit would score two, and another two would come across when Yunel Escobar threw a possible double play ball to the Boston dugout, but while all this scoring was going on, the real story was still the man on the mound for the Red Sox. Through the first four innings, Clay Buchholz established a steady two strikeouts per inning rhythm, cutting through the Rays like so much butter. Only a pair of walks, one in the second, another in the fourth, separated him from perfection.

Buchholz' would run into one of his biggest speedbumps in the sixth, losing control for a while and offering up a pair of walks as his pitch count soared up to 90. Still, with Dustin Pedroia mopping up a ground ball deflected by Stephen Drew to save a hit, Buchhoz was able to get through with zero hits on the board for the Rays.

His run at making history for a second time in his career would come to an end in the eighth inning, when Kelly Johnson lifted a broken-bat flare into right for a base hit. With history out of the way, that left a 4-0 lead for the Red Sox to maintain. They never really had to worry, though. Buchholz quickly induced a double play, got Jennings to fly out to end the eighth, finishing his day with 11 strikeouts and zero runs allowed in eight innings of work.

Will Middlebrooks would bring Dustin Pedroia home with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning to tack on a bit of insurance, but it was never really necessary. Andrew Miller closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth (albeit with the help of a double play), and the Red Sox secured their third series win of the year. They'll try to make it a sweep on Monday.

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