Once again, it was the bullpen which let Boston down. Trailing 4-2, the Sox were still within striking distance of Toronto through 5½ innings, even though starter Clay Buchholz struggled at times before being pulled in the sixth. But against his successors, the Jays proceeded to blow the game wide open, scoring 6 in the bottom of the 6th and effectively sealing Boston's fate.
It started with Kyle Snyder (who, not coincidentally, will be designated for assignment today with Josh Beckett's return) walking the first two batters he faced and advancing one with a wild pitch. Then Bryan Corey entered the game, and all hell broke loose... A single from David Eckstein, scoring 2 runs. An RBI double by Alex Rios. An RBI single by Vernon Wells. And, as if that wasn't enough, a 2-run homer from Frank Thomas. When the smoke cleared, the Blue Jays were up 10-2, a margin they would hold for the rest of the game.
At least there were a few positives for the Sox. Although Buchholz continued to struggle with consistency, he feels like he performed better in this, his first start of the regular season, than he did during the spring. (You can see his Inside Edge scouting report from the game here)
"I felt this whole spring that all the runners I've got on base, I let them score," Buchholz said. "I felt like the damage control today was a lot better.
"I hadn't thrown a lot of sliders during the spring and that was a key pitch for me today," he said. "It's a key first-strike pitch that I threw a lot today."
Added Sox skipper Terry Francona, "Some of those changeups he threw, and a couple of breaking balls, they were as good as you're going to see."
Throw in an RBI by Manny Ramirez, who continued his hot start (6 RBI in 6 games), another decent game by J.D. Drew (despite one of his signature called third strikes), and the fact that the World's Longest Road Trip is almost over, and it's not all bad for the Sox right now. But the bullpen simply has to play better if Boston is going to repeat their stellar 2007 performance.
3-3, 4th in AL East, 1 game back
Up Next For The Red Sox
Template:PitchingMatchup The final game of the road trip against Toronto this afternoon, and then it's back to Boston for two (theoretically) tough 3-game homestands against the Tigers and the Yankees.