It's been a real struggle on the road so far this year for the Red Sox. Their pitchers were destroyed by the Rangers, their lineup shut down by Cleveland, and then there was the ridiculous affair that was yesterday's game, complete with Brett Anderson's domination, Hideki Okajima's collapse, and the bizarre interference-that-wasn't in the eighth.
This time, though, despite facing another pitcher who has traditionally baffled the Red Sox and throwing Clay Buchholz, who has always had trouble with Oakland, the Red Sox persevered.
You would be forgiven, however, for having low expectations after the first pitch to the A's was right down the middle and right out of the park. Coco Crisp clobbering long balls is not, after all, a good omen.
But Clay Buchholz settled down some, and was...decent. Despite allowing just the one run in over five innings of work, it's not really accurate to say he was good. Allowing more walks than strikeouts--something fast becoming a concern for Clay--and working his way out of Jams, Clay's problem was the same as it always was: fastball control. He even had a bout of very poor strategy, obsessing over a runner at third in the sixth inning despite having a three run lead to work with. Determined not to let him come home, Buchholz allowed two straight walks and had to give way to Daniel Bard, who only just avoided major damage when Coco Crisp's line drive to left field landed an inch foul.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, went about hitting some homers. After scoring their first run when Carl Crawford singled in Kevin Youkilis in the second inning, Youk decided to just get the whole thing done himself in the fourth, launching a 3-2 pitch well over the high wall in left field. Two innings later, and it was Jed Lowrie reviving his legend after a flat day against Brett Anderson, hitting his third homer of the season to the same spot. Lowrie finished the day with two hits in four chances, though it could well have been three hat David DeJesus not robbed him of a double or more with an amazing leaping grab at the wall in right. From there, it was J.D. Drew, hitting a rocket over the wall in right for his first homer of the year.
Meanwhile, recording five scoreless outs, Daniel Bard was the only member of the bullpen not to give the Red Sox any problems tonight. Bobby Jenks, having only thrown a handful of pitches in five days, came out looking rusty and allowed a run, leaving with two outs and the bases loaded. Jonathan Papelbon ended the threat, but had his own troubles in the ninth. Still, with the tying run at first base, Papelbon buckled down and induced a pair of pop-ups to put this one away, giving the Red Sox their fourth win in five tries.