Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Should Buchholz have pitched to Longoria?
By Gordon Edes
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- We know you have questions in the aftermath of Monday night's 5-4 Red Sox loss to the Rays. We'll try to answer them.
Should Clay Buchholz have walked Evan Longoria with first base open and the Sox ahead 3-0 in the fifth?
Teams that play the Sox come into games determined not to let David Ortiz beat them if they can. Longoria is that player on the Rays. Only Chris Davis, who led the majors in home runs with 53, hit more home runs this season against the Sox than Longoria, who hit 5 to Davis’s 7. Since Longoria came into the league in 2008, three players have 20 or more home runs against the Sox. Jose Bautista has 25. Longoria and Mark Teixeira have 20.
Buchholz had first base open and a 3-0 lead with two out in the fifth inning when Longoria came to the plate. On deck was Wil Myers, the Rays’ right-handed hitting rookie who was hitless in 11 at-bats in the series and had squared up only two balls, lining out both times. Buchholz had broken Myers’ bat on a first-inning groundout, and struck him out in the fourth with a fastball.
But Buchholz also had struck out Longoria looking the inning before with an exquisite changeup on the seventh pitch of an extended at-bat in which he went through his entire repertoire: fastball, cutter, curve, changeup. He had faced Longoria five times during the regular season, and whiffed him four times. Longoria was just 7 for 34 (.206) in his career against Buchholz, and had never taken him deep. Farrell said he gave “no consideration” to having Buchholz walk Longoria.
“No, not to bring the go ahead run to the plate,’’ Farrell said.
Buchholz came in on Longoria with a first-pitch fastball that Longoria fouled off. He came back with the changeup, middle in, not quite as down as the pitch that Longoria had looked at the previous at-bat. Longoria swung, and drove the ball into the left-field seats. Tie game.