Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 13, Rays 5
April, 14, 2012
By Tony Lee | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have been singing the tune for days now. It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
Clay Buchholz will be echoing that thought after a 13-5 Red Sox victory over theh Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at Fenway Park. Buchholz had an uneven outing, starting in poor fashion but finishing with a flourish to pick up his first victory since June 16, 2011, his final start before being shelved for the rest of the season.
Take out a four-run Tampa Bay first, which made it two straight games in which Buchholz has given up four runs in the opening frame, and the Red Sox righty was fantastic. He induced 11 outs on the ground, struck out five and retired the last 11 men he faced.
Yes, Boston's bats made plenty of noise for the second straight day. But if the Sox have any chance at success this season, their rotation has to perform better than it did the first time through. Josh Beckett had a marked improvement in his second outing Friday afternoon, and the same can be said of Buchholz.
Mikey likes it: It also was an uneven day for shortstop Mike Aviles, but one he has to feel good about in the end. Aviles had an infield hit in the first but was promptly picked off by Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. He also flew to right with the bases loaded in the fourth after getting ahead of Hellickson three balls and no strikes, not exactly the kind of results Aviles wanted in his season debut atop the batting order.
But leading off the seventh inning of a 5-5 game, Aviles lofted one into the first row of the Monster seats, his third home run as a member of the Red Sox. He added a double and scored in the eighth, giving him two three-hit efforts in his last five games.
Aviles also made every play in the field, finishing with six assists, including five from the fifth inning on.
More salt, please: Among the many Red Sox hitters struggling coming into this one was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was 1-for-13 with six strikeouts. Perhaps inspired by the effort by his colleague behind the plate, Kelly Shoppach (3-for-4, two RBIs on Friday), Saltalamacchia snapped out of his funk with one swing.
After Ryan Sweeney drew a two-out walk in the second, Saltalamacchia worked a 3-and-1 count against Hellickson. The Sox catcher appeared to be expecting fastball, as he was out in front a bit, but held back just enough to launch the offering into the hitter's eye in center.
That homer was the first of five on the day for Boston, which entered with a major league-low of two on the season. Dustin Pedroia went deep in the third, David Ortiz did so in the fifth with a man on, and Aviles had his go-ahead blast. Cody Ross added a two-run shot to cap the five-run eighth.
Papi power: Among those not struggling coming into this one was Ortiz, who had a .333 mark through the season’s first seven games. When Ortiz is going well, he sprays the ball all over the outfield; he had everyone in the Tampa Bay outfield chasing down balls Saturday.
The Red Sox designated hitter singled into right-center field in the fourth. His homer the next inning reached the Boston bullpen. He singled to left in the seventh, then plopped a bases-clearing double into the corner in left in the eighth.
Four hits, each of them to a different part of the field. Ortiz looks as if he’s on a mission to prove that last season was no fluke.
Quite a dump: Luke Scott will not be a dinner guest in any New England homes anytime soon. He comes across as someone who is just fine with that.
The newest enemy of the state, Scott followed up his remarks about Fenway Park being “a dump” (which followed remarks earlier this spring about how much he loved ending Boston’s 2011 season) with a four-RBI effort.
Serenaded to boos (or perhaps they were saying “Luuuuuuke”?) when he came to the plate in the top of the first, Scott deposited a belt-high heater from Buchholz into the right-field grandstand. It was a three-run blast that made it 4-0. Scott added an RBI double high off the Green Monster in the third.
Better late than never: Boston has been outscored 11-0 in the first inning this season and has allowed its opponent to score first in seven of eight contests. However, after eighth-inning outbursts each of the last two days, it was outscored foes 23-10 from the eighth on.
On second thought: The Red Sox have won eight straight home openers. Anyone who read or heard anything about Friday’s victory is well aware of that. What they don’t trumpet from the mountaintop is the fact that Boston had followed up those home-opening victories with losses in their second game at Fenway Park every year from 2005 to 2011. That makes Saturday’s result a streak buster.
Wake me when it’s over: The game lasted 3 hours 18 minutes, not particularly lengthy by today’s standards. Compared to a game played on this very day in 1928, however, it was a marathon. On April 14 of that year, also at Fenway Park, the Sox played their shortest game ever, a 50-minute rain-shortened tie with the Washington Senators.
Then again, commercial breaks were limited to three seconds back then.