Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Sox 10, Jays 1
By Gordon Edes
TORONTO -- Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli hit the longest home run of his career Wednesday night, a 472-foot drive to dead center field, then followed that three innings later with another tape-measure job, 467 feet into the third deck, with two runners aboard.
But Napoli, the property of the Blue Jays for a grand total of four days in 2011, and the five home runs the Sox hit collectively Wednesday night were only a sideshow to the main event: another seven scoreless innings from Clay Buchholz, who became the major leagues’ first six-game winner and remained unbeaten in six starts after a 10-1 pummeling of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Buchholz gave up a one-out single in the third to Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who had fouled off two bunt attempts before lining a full-count curveball to center field. In the seventh, after a walk to Adam Lind, he gave up a one-out single to Melky Cabrera, who embarrassed himself and his manager, John Gibbons, by trying to stretch the hit into a double, down by eight runs. He was cut down easily by right-fielder Daniel Nava.
That was the extent of the Blue Jays offense, who advanced only one runner as far as second base all night against Buchholz, Lind taking third on Cabrera’s hit.
Buchholz set down 10 straight Jays after issuing a leadoff walk to Jose Bautista in the fourth. He struck out eight, walked three, and threw an efficient 101 pitches.
His ERA after six starts is 1.01. He has not allowed more than two earned runs yet in any start, and this was the third time in six starts he has held the opposition scoreless. In his last eight starts against the Blue Jays here, dating back to July 17, 2009, he has allowed two runs or fewer.
The last Sox pitcher to go 6-0 with a lower ERA after six starts was Roger Clemens, who was 6-0 with an 0.73 ERA in 1991.
Mike Napoli hit two of the longest home runs of his career -- a 472-foot drive to dead center field and a 467-foot bomb into the third deck in left center.
Pick your poison: Put yourself in the shoes of a Toronto hitter -- say, Brett Lawrie -- and experience what it was like to face Buchholz Wednesday night. On Lawrie's first at-bat, Buchholz threw him back-to-back fastballs, came back with a changeup, then got Lawrie to roll over on a cutter for a groundout to second.
On Lawrie's second at-bat, in the third inning, Buchholz went cutter, 4-seamer, cutter, curve, 4-seamer, 2-seamer -- the last pitch Lawrie taking for a called third strike.
Lawrie came to bat for a third time in the sixth. Buchholz started him with back-to-back curveballs, followed that with a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a changeup and then another two-seamer, which Lawrie grounded to second.
Three entirely different pitch sequences, leaving Lawrie no idea what he might be seeing on a given count. Now, multiply that by nine, and you’ll understand what it was like to be a Blue Jay Wednesday night.
Keep the lid on: The Sox have had seven games in which they’ve hit two or more home runs in the 27 games they’ve played. Three of those games have come in the 16 games they’ve played at Fenway Park. Four of those games have come in the five they’ve played here under a closed roof, including three Tuesday night and five Wednesday. Stephen Drew hit his first of the year with a man on in the second, and Napoli and Daniel Nava went back-to-back in the fourth. For both Nava and Napoli, that was No. 5 this season.
All three of those home runs came off Jays starter Mark Buehrle, whose re-entry into the American League has been a horror show. Buehrle, who came to the Jays in the big trade with the Marlins, already has given up 9 home runs in 35 innings, and has a 6.75 ERA.
Napoli hit the first home run into the second deck in dead center field, then devalued Canadian currency even more when he crushed a 3-and-0 pitch from reliever Esmil Rogers into the third deck in left center, with two runners aboard, in the seventh.
Napoli -- who also flied to the track in center in the second inning, walked in the sixth and hit a ground-rule double in the ninth -- rebounded nicely from a 4-K game the night before.
The Sox have hit 31 home runs this season. Sixteen have come here, including the six they hit here on April 7. Their last home run of the night Wednesday came from Mike Carp, who pinch-hit for David Ortiz and homered into the right-field seats, giving him home runs in consecutive at-bats. Carp homered in his last at-bat Tuesday night.
Spreading the wealth: Every Sox player in the lineup reached base safely, with Jonny Gomes, who walked twice, the only Sox player without a hit. The only inning in which the Sox went down in order was the fifth.