The Red Sox finished off the first half of the season on just about the most positive note possible, the lineup dismantling Houston's bullpen and Clay Buchholz going the distance in an 11-0 rout.
This was certainly an odd game. Bo Porter made sure of that in the first. Houston pitcher Brad Peacock got off to a rough start, allowing an upper-decker solo shot to Brock Holt on the sixth pitch of the game, then giving up a single to Dustin Pedroia, a walk to David Ortiz, and hitting Daniel Nava after striking out Mike Napoli. And...that was it! Out came Bo Porter, taking a visibly (and vocally) baffled Peacock with him, leaving the Houston bullpen with 26 outs to record.
They got their first two on just two pitches, with Jackie Bradley grounding into a double play to keep the first inning a one-run affair. Anthony Bass could only keep it together for so long, though. Another double play in the second, this time off the bat of Christian Vazquez, brought home a second Boston run, though it limited a four-baserunner inning to just the one. Then, in the third, the first three batters reached base with the help of an error from Jon Singleton, Jackie Bradley Jr. making up for his earlier double play with an RBI single and Xander Bogaerts bringing in another run with a sacrifice fly. Somehow the Red Sox managed to produce their third double play in three innings--this time it was more a matter of bad luck with Singleton making a leaping grab on a Stephen Drew line drive, tagging first to turn two--but the score was still 4-0.
Any offensive outpouring from the Red Sox is noteworthy these days, but the true story for Boston came on the mound, where Clay Buchholz was proving that those positive signs from his first few games back were not imagined. His fastball was still sitting 93, he was locking knees with his curveball, and if his changeup was still not quite right, he was at least willing to throw it to give batters something else to think about.
The result was pure domination. The Astros are not a good team, of that there's no doubt, but they're right around average when it comes to the bats, producing a 96 wRC+ based largely on a big power game. Given Buchholz' homer troubles, this could even be considered a bad matchup. But they managed nothing against him. There was a brief moment of concern in the second inning when they actually had a pair of hard hit outs, and there were three singles scattered throughout, but that was it. Three hits, no walks, no runs, twelve strikeouts. Buchholz started strong, continued strong, and finished strong. It was the sort of performance you'd have expected out of him in May 2013. And, hopefully, it was an announcement that he's well-and-truly back.
Still, if four runs would have been plenty for Buchholz, why not score seven more? Even hitting into two more double plays along the way, the Red Sox still managed to put up 11 on the Astros. Brock Holt in particular had a big day, adding four more hits to his first-inning homer with ten batters--the starting nine and Mike Carp--reaching base.
All told it wasn't much of a game, but for Red Sox fans who just want to see their team on a rampage, it was quite the spectacle, and a perfect way to head into the All-Star Break.