It was a lot uglier and more frustrating than it perhaps needed to be, but the Red Sox are back up to .500 after an 11-6 win over the Oakland Athletics in Fenway Park.
This could have been such an easy night. The Red Sox once again found themselves confronted by a junkballer--a lefty no less--and they got back to the high-scoring ways that Peavy and Floyd had managed to put a stop to. Base hits from all comers, homers from Mike Aviles, Darnell McDonald, and two from David Ortiz--who is simply ridiculous right now--put an end to young Tommy Milone's night and left Jordan Norberto battered and bruised for 11 runs.
Clay Buchholz...well, it was a mixed bag through the first six innings. While he was putting up a good few goose eggs, only about half of them were at all impressive. The first, second, and fifth inning are almost remarkable in their similarity. In each of them, Buchholz allowed a walk, and in each he was saved some damage by a line drive out to Marlon Byrd in center. The second had a run come in when Nick Punto foolishly allowed Kurt Suzuki to score while he tried to catch Daric Barton in the rundown, the fifth had a hit batsman, but none of them really looked like good innings.
The third, fourth, and sixth, however, all featured plenty of off-speed pitches and had Clay Buchholz looking like the Clay Buchholz of the last couple of years.
Now, if Clay had simply been able to leave the game after six, then he could have built on the outing. Instead, he came in for the seventh--understandable given his low pitch count--and gave up five runs. The first two came on a single, walk, and then after a line out and ground out (that narrowly missed being an inning-ending double play), loaded the bases with another free pass and surrendered a two-run base hit.
This is around the time that Bobby Valentine should have had Buchholz leave the game. Instead, he was just beginning to warm Junichi Tazawa. Three runs would score in the next at bat, as Josh Reddick dug out a curveball and golfed it past the wall in right. Buchholz would leave the mound visibly distraught, blowing past Bobby Valentine and his teammates as he made a B-line for the dugout.
More bullpen mismanagement would follow, and Nick Punto would again fail to make himself useful, but all that is perhaps better left for later. Vicente Padilla managed to escape the inning after the bases were reloaded by (a likely cold) Junichi Tazawa), the Sox escaped a bases-loaded, zero outs jam in the eighth on a strikeout and a tremendous double play from Dustin Pedroia, and Alfredo Aceves pitched a relatively calm ninth to close things out.