There is suddenly real hope for Clay Buchholz.
We had seen one decent start before, but always isolated, and never truly impressive. Often enough they were marred by peripherals, bad first innings, or poor managing decisions which left Clay looking none-too-impressive afterward. Add in follow-up performances that seemed to confirm his mediocrity (and that's generous), and it was hard to ever feel good about Clay's chances next time up.
Tonight, though, we have the unprecedented: not simply one start that is good from beginning to finish, both in terms of peripherals and results, but two in a row.
After taking care of the Rays in his last appearance, Clay was tasked tonight with shutting down the Blue Jays, and did just that. Not only did everything look good on the box score, though; Clay passed the eye test with flying colors. Starting with a fastball - changeup combo that actually seemed under control.
Buchholz would add in his curveball as the night went along, but what was really impressive was the usage of his different fastballs, utilizing a typical range of 89-94 MPH, taking something off for late break and earning ground balls, or blowing batters away like he twice did to Jose Bautista with high heat. Toronto, for the most part, was simply left off-balance.
The lineup, meanwhile, could have gotten by with all of three men: Daniel Nava, Adrian Gonzalez, and David Ortiz. Papi got things rolling in the second with a solo shot, and the other two participated in rallies all night. All together, they went 9-for-13 with a walk, homer, and four doubles--three of which came off the bat of Nava.
It was in every way a gratifying win--getting perhaps less than they should have against Henderson Alvarez when things weren't going entirely their way, but then working right on through and putting the game away against the bullpen. It's classic Red Sox baseball, and something that we've seen a lot more of in recent weeks.
Keep it up.