The Red Sox suffered their second walkoff defeat in three games at the hands of the Minnesota Twins Thursday afternoon, leaving them in bad shape heading into their series against the Detroit Tigers.
Honestly, it's the worst of both worlds. This is the sort of game which will lead to no positives for the Red Sox despite a ninth-inning comeback. That's because of what happened on the mound: Clay Buchholz was not terrible.
Sounds like a positive, right? Not so much. Clay Buchholz' results weren't bad. Six innings, three earned runs, and really it could have been two since Will Middlebrooks let a not-too-tough ground ball bounce off his glove before Buchholz offered up a two-run homer in the second inning. The problem is that he just wasn't very good. He lacked confidence in his off-speed pitches, and lacked control over his primary offerings. He was good for six strikeouts, sure, and he even threw a good curveball or two. But this was the same Clay Buchholz who has been knocked around time after time. He gave up a bunch of hard contact, a ton of baserunners, and seems very likely to do the same in the start he may well have earned with this "quality start."
Still, had the Red Sox taken advantage of Buchholz stumbling his way through six innings, it might have been worth it in the end. They did not. Instead, Phil Hughes enjoyed a banner day. Boston's primary offense in the first eight innings came from Minnesota's infield defense proving porous as can be. They did put a jolt in a few of Hughes' offerings, but the former New York Yankee still finished the day with eight strikeouts.
The ninth inning finally saw the Red Sox do something at the plate. David Ortiz led off the inning with a single against Minnesota closer Glen Perkins, Jonny Gomes moved pinch-runner Jonathan Herrera to second with a single of his own, and Mike Carp made it three base hits and three baserunners, loading the bases for David Ross. The veteran catcher was unable to cash in, striking out on three quick pitches, but Will Middlebrooks found a hole in that questionable Minnesota infield, and the Red Sox had themselves a tie game.
Unfortunately, that only bought them one inning of time. Andrew Miller managed to keep the Twins quiet in the ninth, but a one-out double from Kurt Suzuki set up Aaron Hicks for a two-out walkoff single to left field, with Suzuki scoring well ahead of the throw from Grady Sizemore.
Now the Red Sox are headed right into the buzzsaw that is Detroit with a .500 record. And only one team is playing like the squad that played for a World Series berth last year.