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Red Sox 1, Twins 0: One run enough behind dominant Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz figured out how to force this team to win. After all, they can't score negative runs.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox finally did it: they took advantage of a fantastic start from Clay Buchholz and put a win in the books.

Or, rather, Clay Buchholz finally did it: he found a run total low enough that the Red Sox lineup could beat it. It just happened to be zero.

Coming into Tuesday's game, the Red Sox had won two of Clay Buchholz' 10 starts this season. The first was his seven shutout innings on Opening Day, the second back in Toronto, when he allowed three runs in six-plus. Since that last win, the Sox have lost games three that never saw Buchholz allow more than two earned runs, or pitch fewer than 7.1 innings. Each time the Sox scored just the one run.

It would be reasonable to expect the run support to maybe meet him halfway here and give him a few runs to work with. Or at least two. Instead, Buchholz had to go that extra mile and shut the Twins out entirely to get his win. And really, aside from a couple moments, the Twins never got close.

For four innings, the Twins couldn't so much as put a baserunner on second. Usually when Buchholz is on, it's because one of his secondary offerings is in exceptional form, but this outing started with the fastball. Buchholz was putting it in the zone, exactly where he wanted it, getting it past hitters for strikeouts, and getting it on the ground when he needed a rare double play. When, in the middle of the game, Buchholz started to mix in a highly effective changeup in earnest, it was clear he wasn't going to let this one get away without a fight.

The fifth inning was the first and only time the Twins got a man in scoring position--Aaron Hicks drawing one of the two walks Buchholz allowed on the night, then stealing second. Buchholz quickly struck out Danny Santana, however, and that was that for the "threat."

Somehow, though, the Red Sox couldn't get their pitcher a single run through the first six. Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli both got into scoring position with one out in the second, but Sandoval couldn't beat the throw home on Xander Bogaerts' ground ball, and Sandy Leon popped out to end the inning. The fifth saw Bogaerts stranded at second by Leon and Rusney Castillo, and a promising start to the sixth with singles from Pedroia and Betts was quickly wiped out by a double play ball from David Ortiz.

Then, finally, came the seventh. With two outs, Xander Bogaerts crushed a double high off the wall in center, just missing a solo shot. Sandy Leon drew a five-pitch walk, never swinging the bat, giving Rusney Castillo a chance to get that big hit for Boston. Castillo quickly fell behind 1-2, but fouled off a couple pitches, then drove a fastball back up the middle for a single. Even that almost didn't do the job, with Sandy Leon getting thrown out at third, but Xander had crossed home plate just before the play to score the go-ahead run.

The last real danger of the night came in the very next at bat. Aaron Hicks, who had reached second before, nearly rounded the bases with one big swing, crushing a curveball to right field. But Castillo, who had just knocked in Boston's only run, backed up to the wall and made the catch against the bullpen wall, keeping the Twins off the board. Buchholz finished the eighth without further incident, and Koji Uehara closed out the ninth with just a walk to his name.

It shouldn't be this hard when the starting pitcher goes eight shutout. But in the wake of a 1-6 road trip, the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz will take what they can get right now.