The Red Sox fell
in Clay Buchholz' last start of the season as a thoroughly encouraging start took a sudden turn for the worse in the later innings.
(Apparently John Farrell has ditched the six-man rotation for the last couple series and Clay Buchholz will start one last time.)
At its heart, this game is the story of the 2014 Red Sox writ small. Or maybe just the eighth inning is. Coming off a bad outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clay Buchholz started the night in excpetional form. Other than the third inning, when Yoenis Cespedes gunned down Yunel Escobar at home to keep the Rays off the board, Buchholz had little trouble keeping Tampa Bay in check.
More than just productive, Buchholz proved thoroughly efficient. It took him just nine pitches to work through the first, 12 more to record a pair of strikeouts in a clean second, and another dozen even in that slightly rougher third. Even after a two-strikeout seventh cost him 14 pitches--the most of any frame of the night to that point--Buchholz was set to enter the eighth with just 72 on his arm. It was looking like a fantastic finish to a troubled season.
And then...the eighth.
It started off innocently enough: a six-pitch walk to Nick Franklin--Buchholz' first free pass of the night--which looked even less threatening when Buchholz responded by striking out Matt Joyce on six pitches. But then his first pitch to Brandon Guyer resulted in a hit batter, giving the Rays just their second inning with multiple baserunners on the night. Buchholz would come within one out of eight scoreless innings, but that final out was a long time in coming.
It was Ben Zobrist who would get Tampa Bay on the board, going the other way with a fastball that ended up bouncing off the wall, Yoenis Cespedes making an awkward half-leap on a ball he probably would have had easily were it not for the intimidating presence of the Monster leaving him tentative in left. A simple ground ball up the middle was good for a third run, and Buchholz' night quickly ended when he plunked Evan Longoria, bringing Tommy Layne into the game. The reliever proved no more successful, surrendering a wild pitch and two-run single to James Loney, turning Buchholz' night from a seven-inning masterpiece into a five-run mess.
With the Red Sox having scored just once off of Alex Cobb back in the bottom of the fourth, Daniel Nava doubling home Yoenis Cespedes after an infield single, the Rays now held a commanding 5-1 lead with just six outs to go. The first three of those resulted in a run from Mookie Betts, doubling with one down in the eighth and then scoring on Jemile Weeks' sacrifice fly. But Junichi Tazawa quickly gave that back by allowing a homer to Matt Joyce in the top of the ninth, and the side went down in order in the bottom half, leaving the night with a truly (and appropriately) disappointing ending.