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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Quick hits: Sox 10, Blue Jays 1

By Gordon Edes

TORONTO -- Quick hits from Red Sox 10, Jays 1:

The race: The Sox gained a game on the Rays in the wild-card race and had a chance to pick up ground on the first-place Yankees as well until New York rallied from a 6-1 deficit to beat Texas 7-6. The second-place Rays lost 3-2 in Detroit and are only 3 games ahead of the Sox. Boston remains five behind the Yankees. Games left: 47

No passing the Buck: Clay Buchholz allowed an unearned run in the first inning (Mike Lowell fielding error, sacrifice bunt, passed ball, sacrifice fly) and nothing more, checking the Jays on five singles over eight innings. Only one other Jays baserunner advanced as far as second against Buchholz, now 13-5, his ERA down to a league-low 2.49.

"Can't go out there scared of getting home runs hit off you,'' Buchholz said. "Nibbled a little bit there in the beginning, got back to establishing each pitch. Got a key double play early, defense made good plays.''

Buchholz averaged 94 miles an hour, topping out at 97. He was averaging 95 at the end of the game, when he finished with 109 pitches.

"Some days are different than others,'' he said. "Some days you go out trying to throw hard, and the ball comes out of your hand better than other days. This was one of those days my arm felt good, my body felt good.''

Supersub power: With two home runs Tuesday night, which gave him a McGwire-esque seven in a span of 48 at-bats, Bill Hall now has 15 home runs this season, the fourth most on the Red Sox (behind David Ortiz's 24, Adrian Beltre's 21, and Kevin Youkilis' 19).

Hall has 234 at-bats in the team’s first 115 games. At this rate, he would finish with 21 home runs in 330 at-bats, which would place him in rare company in Red Sox history. Only one player in Sox history has finished a season with more home runs in 350 or fewer at-bats. His name? Ted Williams. The Splinter hit 29 as a 41-year-old in 1960, his last season in the big leagues, when he played in 113 games and had 310 at-bats.

"He hit 29 home runs in 300 at-bats?'' Hall said when informed of Williams' feat. "What a player, What a player.''

If Hall didn’t hit another home run the rest of the season, only two other players would have hit more home runs in fewer than 350 at-bats. First baseman-outfielder Dick Gernert hit 16 in 306 at-bats in 1956, and DH Don Baylor hit 16 in 339 at-bats in 1987.

One player hit 15: Bernie Carbo in 1975, a number that does not, of course, include his epic game-tying home run in Game 6 of the World Series that season.

Cranking in Canada: With four home runs Wednesday in four innings-plus against Blue Jays starter Shawn Marcum, the Sox beat the Jays at their own game. The Jays began the night with a major league-leading 178 home runs, 29 more than the runner-up Red Sox.

J.D. Drew hit his second in two nights to open the fifth and Beltre hit a three-run homer to KO Marcum later in the inning.

In two games here, the Sox have had 13 extra-base hits, including six home runs. This was the ninth time this season the Sox have hit four or more home runs in a game this season. They hit five twice, in an 11-9 loss to the Yankees in the Bronx on May 17, and in an 8-3 win over the Royals at home on April 10.

He’s official: Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, wearing No. 39, made his Sox debut, replacing Victor Martinez behind the plate in the bottom of the eighth. Saltalamacchia was called up earlier in the day, with Kevin Cash placed on the disabled list with what can safely be termed a mild strain of the left hamstring.