The Red Sox fell behind big early on, recovered with a big sixth inning, but then couldn't make their late lead last, ultimately falling 7-6 to the Indians Wednesday night in Cleveland.
That the Red Sox even had that late lead to surrender is remarkable enough given that Clay Buchholz was ominously bad. He struck out the first batter he faced, but it was more due to Francisco Lindor chasing balls than anything else. And once the Indians put a man on base, the first inning snowballed in a big way. A three-run shot from Carlos Santana highlighted a big opening frame for the Indians off of Buchholz, who needed 29 pitches just to escape that miserable first.
The Boston lineup got back in the game, with Brock Holt keeping his personal magic going with a two-run jack to right field, but Buchholz committed the cardinal sin of coming right back out after his team had chipped away and giving the Indians a run back on singles to Tyler Naquin--the first of his career--and Jose Ramirez.
Buchholz would at least manage to survive the third and fourth unharmed, but exited after allowing a leadoff walk in the fifth. It was a miserable outing, and while Pedro Martinez is right that there were extenuating circumstances (and Buchholz' changeup was absolutely miserable), the reality is that Buchholz tends not to subvert his early trends in any given year, and if one game a trend does not make, it's also not too far off...
Noe Ramirez managed to save the Red Sox from any further damage by inducing a double play in that fifth inning, and in the top of the sixth, the lineup finally woke up again. After a lengthy period of dominance, Carlos Carrasco faltered in the sixth in a big way. The two-seam fastball that had been such a weapon in the last three innings turned into a liability as it tailed perfectly over the plate for David Ortiz to crush, giving the Red Sox their second homer of the game. Behind him, Hanley Ramirez put the ball in the air to the opposite field and let it carry its way out to make it back-to-back bombs.
That signaled the end to Carrasco's night, but not to Boston's offense...or, well, sort of the offense. Chris Young got lucky in his first pinch-hit appearance, as after a night of uncomfortable plays from infielders dealing with unpredictable wind, a fly ball dropped in between an uncertain Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin for a double. Brock Holt drew a walk, and Blake Swihart only failed to get a bunt down because Ross Detwiler couldn't find the zone, loading the bases.
The Sox would manage to get the runs the situation seemed to owe them, as Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a sacrifice fly, and Brock Holt pulled off a smart bit of baserunning when third baseman Juan Uribe had to come in on Mookie Betts' ground ball, breaking for home as the throw went to first to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. They came away with no more, however, and that did not prove enough.
Where Noe Ramirez had acquitted himself nicely in finishing the fifth, the sixth proved a mess. A walk and single put runners on the corners with no outs, and a sacrifice fly quickly tied the game. Robbie Ross Jr. managed to preserve the tie, but seemed to be on the verge of disaster the entire time, leaving John Farrell to turn to Junichi Tazawa for the seventh. And while Tazawa didn't throw too many bad pitches, he made the one big mistake to the wrong batter: Mike Napoli. The former Red Sox first baseman crushed a flat splitter a long way to left, putting the Indians ahead.
Where other leads had failed, this one would hold up. There were some unusual baserunning plays to come--Hanley Ramirez stealing second in the seventh, and Terry Francona choosing not to challenge what would've almost certainly been an overturned caught stealing call in the eighth. But the Red Sox would produce two quick outs in the ninth, and David Ortiz' last effort was yanked out of the air on the track in left to end the game and set the Red Sox back to .500.
Ultimately, a close loss, and one the Red Sox should be happy just to have had a chance at given how it started. But the real concern here is that, one game into his season, Clay Buchholz looks like a train wreck. And while for most pitchers that would be insignificant, for Buchholz, it's an ill omen indeed.