BOSTON -- Yes, the Olympics are on. And God knows, there are few things as entertaining as a Patriots practice, judging by the crowds they’re attracting.
But be advised the Olde Towne Team seems bound and determined to engage your attention again, just when you might have been tempted to write them off.
The Red Sox made it three straight wins Monday night by beating the Detroit Tigers, 7-3, and in doing so heralded the arrival of a staff ace.
Clay Buchholz, after nearly searing a hole in his foodpipe, has returned from his bout with esophagitis to deliver his third straight dominant performance. Austin Jackson hit Buchholz’s second pitch of the night for a home run, but Buchholz limited the Tigers to four more hits and two more runs, one earned, in going eight innings, the third straight start in which he has pitched at least seven.
In that span he has allowed four earned runs for an ERA of 1.57. A modest sample size, you say? Indeed, but going back to May 27, before he was sidelined almost a month (June 19 to July 14), Buchholz has a 2.44 ERA in nine starts. Only eight big-league pitchers have a lower ERA in that span.
The Red Sox, who have given up more runs in the first inning (87) than any other, quickly responded, Jacoby Ellsbury setting the tone by drawing a nine-pitch walk off Tigers starter Max Scherzer. Carl Crawford tripled high off the wall in left-center, Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI ground out, and the Sox had their first lead of the night three batters into their night.
The Tigers tied it in the third on Omar Infante’s triple and a single by Miguel Cabrera, but Pedroia, flexing his muscles like the buff Tim Tebow (whose picture hangs in Pedroia's locker), smacked a two-run home run in sixth, Kelly Shoppach tripled and scored on Ellsbury’s single in the seventh, and Will Middlebrooks followed Adrian Gonzalez’s single in the eighth by crushing his 13th home run, a line drive off the left-field light tower.
The Sox were coming off two last at-bat wins against the Yankees. Now, the biggest drama facing the Sox, who began the night four games out in the wild-card race, is who will face Justin Verlander on Tuesday night in the Fens. Josh Beckett is scheduled to make that start, but with a 4 o’clock trading deadline, he may be filling out change-of-address cards. Unlikely, but possible.