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Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is hitless in his last 15 at-bats, including two critical outs he made during Boston's loss to the Oakland Athletics Wednesday night. But he remains convinced he will turn his season around soon.
"I've gone through a lot worse things than what I'm going through now. This is four games," Gonzalez said. "At the end of the day I'm always going to have the right approach, I'm always going to be prepared and I'm always going to be looking for a pitch I want to drive. I haven't been able to do it these last four days, but it will change come Friday."
Added manager Bobby Valentine, "I think he's just tired. He's played the entire time, and his timing and recognition of the strike zone is just a little off. He'll be fine.
For more from Gonzalez and Valentine on the troublesome slump, watch the video below:
The Red Sox have dropped their series to the Oakland Athletics after a 4-2 loss, with Adrian Gonzalez failing to produce in two crucial situations.
The game started with a bit of promise, as Daniel Bard cruised through the first on eight pitches and the Sox picked up a pair of baserunners and plenty of contact in a scoreless bottom half. Brandon McCarthy would recover quickly for the Athletics, however, while Daniel Bard started to lose control of the zone, eventually allowing a run in the fourth.
The real damage would come in the sixth, and surprisingly enough would come in large part thanks to the defense. With a man on first and one out, Cody Ross badly misplayed a fly ball hit towards the wall that could have been turned into a double play had he simply taken a step or two backwards. The run would score from first, and eventually two more would come around to make it 4-0.
The Sox would end up scoring in the bottom of the seventh, but failed to capitalize fully on the rally when Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded. He would come up empty again in the bottom of the ninth too, grounding out as the tying run after Dustin Pedroia had already brought one home, ending the game.
Will's Big Debut: Will Middlebrooks was very impressive in his first game with the Red Sox, drawing a walk in his first trip to the plate and stealing second before adding an infield single and an opposite-field double later on. He's the first exciting position prospect to come up to the Red Sox since Ryan Kalish in 2010 not including Ryan Lavarnway's cup of coffee. Hopefully he fills in admirably while Youk is out.
Mortensen Too: While Middlebrooks was the man in the spotlight, Clay Mortensen had an impressive Red Sox debut of his own, striking out a remarkable six batters in three innings of work as he kept the Athletics in striking distance.
Adrian Gone: Where is the Adrian Gonzalez of 2011? Through 24 games, Gonzalez sits at .261/.333/.386, and it's just getting worse. Providing nothing tonight despite being given two big opportunities, the first baseman is really the one who cost Boston the game.
Well, him and Ross.
The Red Sox and Athletics are set to face off in the rubber match of their three-game series, with Daniel Bard facing off against Brandon McCarthy as the Sox look to make it three straight winning series.
The spotlight will shine on Will Middlebrooks today as he makes his major league debut. The exciting young prospect will play third base and bat eighth tonight in Boston's lineup.
We'll keep you up-to-date here as all the action goes down in Fenway Park.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 2, Final -- The Sox rally again, but Adrian Gonzalez' struggles continue with a weak ground out ending the game and stranding Dustin Pedroia at second.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 1, Mid 9th -- Who is this and what has he done with Clayton Mortensen? The 27-year-old from Triple-A has six strikeouts in three innings of one-hit ball. What?
Athletics 4, Red Sox 1, End 8th -- David Ortiz seemingly gets all of one to lead off the eighth, but the ball dies as it approaches the corner and the big man is left with just a double. Unfortunately, the opportunity ends up wasted, as Cody Ross strikes out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia lines out, and Will Middlebrooks fails to conjure more debut magic, striking out to end the inning.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 1, Mid 8th -- Clayton Mortensen completes another two-strikeout inning, this time without the pesky leadoff single. That's two good debuts for Boston tonight.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 1, End 7th -- The Red Sox get one as Jarrod Saltalamacchia singles and Will Middlebrooks continues his fine debut with a double, but they leave a lot more behind as Adrian Gonzalez strikes out with the bases loaded.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 0, Mid 7th -- Clayton Mortensen actually has a very nice inning in his Red Sox debut, giving up a leadoff single but striking out two to end the threat.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 0, End 6th -- David Ortiz doubles high off the wall, but the rest of the Sox go quietly in the sixth. No signs of a big comeback there, sadly.
Athletics 4, Red Sox 0, Mid 6th -- Cody Ross costs the Red Sox big, misplaying a ball off the bat of Seth Smith as it headed towards the monster and allowing a double where, with Josh Reddick already well on his way to third, the Sox should have had a double play. The run scores, Smith scores on a soft line drive down the right field line, and then after Kurt Suzuki gets hit, two more come across on a double before Bard is pulled and Albers finishes the inning.
That's four earned in 5.1 for Bard, but really it should be one in six, with three on Ross.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, End 5th -- The Sox get a pair of baserunners with a little help from Mr. Reddick, who has Jarrod Saltalamacchia's sinking liner clang off his glove in right, and Lady Luck, as Will Middlebrooks once again reaches, this time on an infield single to third base.
Unfortunately, Marlon Byrd fails twice in his attempt to bunt, Mike Aviles grounds out (Will Middlebrooks saves a double play by stopping midway and then rushing to second when the defender has to throw to first, where Aviles frankly was safe), and Sweeney flies out nice-and-easy for the third out.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 5th -- Daniel Bard has a much easier time of things in a 1-2-3 fifth, though he does need eight pitches to get Coco Crisp for his first strikeout of the night.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, End 4th -- The Red Sox are really struggling against Brandon McCarthy right now, with Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Cody Ross producing a strikeout and two weak groundouts in the fourth. It's been ugly ever since that first inning--they just can't get anything on that cutter.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- The Athletics finally get to the shaky Daniel Bard in the fourth as he falls behind batters and is made to pay for it. Yoenis Cespedes caught ahold of a slider that caught too much of the plate for a double off the top of the scoreboard in left, and then quickly scored when Seth Smith took advantage of a high 2-0 fastball with a base hit to center. Some more long at bats helped the Athletics to build Bard's pitch count over 60, too, wasting his quick early innings.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- Unlike in the first, the Sox go down very meekly in the third. Mike Aviles takes just one pitch to retire, Ryan Sweeney three, and Dustin Pedroia four. Not what you're looking for after a rather promising start to the night.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Daniel Bard seems to be struggling with his control again tonight, surrendering a second walk and falling behind a bunch of hitters. You may remember the last time he had control difficulties, when he allowed one run in 6.2 innings against the Rays. And with plenty of ground balls being hit to this staunch defensive infield, he's through three on relatively few pitches without a run in.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- The rest of the team does nothing around him, but Will Middlebrooks is off to a good start in the major leagues. Drawing a four-pitch walk with two outs, the young third baseman waited a few pitches and then stole second base. Not a bad debut.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- The Athletics get the first baserunner they're allowed to keep on a two-out walk from Kila Ka'ahue. Of course, the next batter grounded out to short, so perhaps only circumstances kept them from a second inning-ending double play.
Of note: Will Middlebrooks records his first major league assist, looking smooth at third as he ranges to grab a routine ground ball and tosses it across to first to get Yoenis Cespedes out.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- The Sox look like they could have a decent night against Brandon McCarthy, even based on a scoreless first inning.
Four of five batters had good at bats against the right-handed starter. Mike Aviles put a pretty good swing on a 2-1 fastball that unfortunately headed straight for Josh Reddick in right. Ryan Sweeney also found right field, but much further towards the line, resulting in a double. Dustin Pedroia tried to bring both Sweeney and himself in on a high-inside fastball, almost perfect but just a bit too inside for him to work his usual homer magic on it, resulting in a long fly out to left. Adrian Gonzalez managed to work the walk, but unfortunately David Ortiz proved the one weak link in the chain, hitting a routine ground ball to second for the final out.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- A nice quick inning for Daniel Bard to start the game. While Cliff Pennington manages to get some good wood on a 1-0 fastball, Bard quickly got Josh Reddick to bounce one right back to the mound, where he calmly started the 1-6-3 double play.
The Red Sox and Athletics will play the rubber game of their three-game series Wednesday night as Will Middlebrooks makes his major league debut for Boston. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with coverage on NESN and WEEI.
For the Red Sox, this could be the beginning of an era with Will Middlebrooks at third. Kevin Youkilis has been moved to the disabled list for his lower back injury, facilitating a call-up for the top prospect in the Red Sox system and presumptive third baseman of the future. He'll get his first major league cuts in against a tough opponent in Brandon McCarthy.
The Sox will turn to Daniel Bard on the mound, hoping that the young starter can continue his production. Through the first month of the season, he has excelled in he rotation, currently topping the starting five in terms of ERA.
Boston Red Sox (11-12)
Oakland Athletics (12-13)
The Red Sox fell to the Oakland Athletics 3-5 Tuesday night behind a Jekyll and Hyde start from Felix Doubront.
Equal parts dominant and disastrous, every at bat for Felix Doubront seemed to either be hard contact or a strikeout. The first inning was a perfect example of this, as a walk and two singles scored a run in an inning which saw Doubront strike out the side.
Doubront would avoid damage for the next couple of innings, but had things really fall apart in the fourth. With two on and two out, a double scored one run and set up a two-run single by Jemile Weeks to give the Athletics a 4-0 lead. One wild pitch later, and it was 5-0.
The Sox were able to get one run back in the bottom half of the inning, but couldn't take advantage of leadoff runners in the fifth or seventh innings, leaving them still behind four runs entering the ninth thanks to strong relief efforts from Scott Atchison, Rich Hill, and Matt Albers.
Boston did manage to make a game of it in the ninth, with Mike Aviles plating two runs and representing the tying run at first base. Unfortunately, with two outs to go, the Red Sox couldn't finish the job. Lars Anderson was left in to strike out (more on that below), and Dustin Pedroia could only ground out weakly to second to end the game.
An Odd Night For Felix: Rarely has a pitcher bounced back and forth between unhittable and untenable in any single outing. When Felix was able to locate his fastball and get ahead in the count, his changeup became an incredible weapon that led to strikeouts both looking and swinging. When he couldn't rely on the changeup, or to a lesser extent the curve, it was just all too easy for batters to wait for that fastball to wind up in the zone, or take the walk if it didn't. On the whole, it's kind of what you might have expected from this matchup. Doubront is all about swing-and-miss stuff, after all, relying on it to put batters away, and the Athletics don't swing and miss terribly often.
Rich Hill Strong: A good sign for the Red Sox bullpen, as Rich Hill records five outs in six at bats, striking out three batters in the process, including two lefties. The Sox could really use a strong Rich Hill this year.
A Costly Injury: With one out, two on, down two in the ninth, the Red Sox had to turn to none other than Lars Anderson for a crucial at bat against a left-handed pitcher. Warming before the at bat was Kevin Youkilis, but it seems as though the third baseman just could not get comfortable enough to head to the plate. An unfortunate "what-if" scenario.
Back Under: The Sox are now 0-for-2 in opportunities to jump above .500, not including the first game of the season. Last year the hump came in getting to .500. Hopefully this doesn't take them so long as that did in 2011.
The Red Sox and Athletics are about to get underway in Boston in the second of a three-game set.
We'll keep you up-to-date with all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 3, Final -- The Red Sox rally in the bottom of the ninth, with Mike Aviles bringing two runs in on a bases loaded single, but Kevin Youkilis can't get ready to pinch hit for Lars Anderson, and Dustin Pedroia grounds out weakly to end the game.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 9th -- Matt Albers works around a leadoff baserunner to keep it a four-run game headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, End 8th -- The Red Sox see their best chance to score go by the wayside. All the heart of the order can provide is a walk by Adrian Gonzalez. Still trailing by four and headed into the ninth with the bottom of the lineup due, this one doesn't seem likely to be a win.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 8th -- Rich Hill picks up another couple of outs, including another strikeout (of Kila Ka'aihue) to finish up a very nice outing before handing off the ball to Matt Albers, who finishes things up to send the Sox to the bottom of the eighth.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, End 7th -- A good scoring opportunity goes wanting thanks to some scrappy defense at third by Brandon Inge, who smothers a sharp ground ball from Mike Aviles and goes diving forward to apply the tag to Cody Ross as he heads into third.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 7th -- Rich Hill gives up some decent contact on a double to Josh Reddick, but makes amends by striking out Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes. That's two right-handed hitters, for the record.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, End 6th -- Jarrod Parker continues to roll, getting Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, and David Ortiz out 1-2-3. It's been a while now since Adrian Gonzalez actually did something at the plate...
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 6th -- The Athletics put a little more pressure on Scott Atchison in the sixth, hitting back-to-back one-out singles. A routine fly ball from Cliff Pennington and ground ball from Jemile Weeks ends the threat there, however.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, End 5th -- The Sox get a leadoff single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a walk from Nick Punto, but Mike Aviles takes a borderline strike three and Ryan Sweeney flies out to end the threat.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 5th -- Scott Atchison manages to calm things down for the Red Sox with a clean 1-2-3 inning.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 1, End 4th -- The Sox do manage to take a run back thanks to a leadoff single from Dustin Pedroia, a wild pitch, and some productive outs. Still a lot more work to do, however, and the bullpen will have to keep them in it.
Athletics 5, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- Felix Doubront's weird night unfortunately does not seem destined for a happy ending. Despite picking up his seventh and eighth strikeouts of the night, Doubront puts two men on and then allows some two-out trouble to let the game get away from him. A double from Cliff Pennington gave the Athletics their first run since the first, and then a single from Jemile Weeks quickly made it 4-0. A wild pitch capped off the unfortunate inning, leaving Doubront likely done after just four innings of work.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- Parker shows Doubront the true meaning of a quick inning, needing just six pitches to end the bottom of the third.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Felix Doubront finally has a reasonably quick inning, throwing just twelve pitches to get Brandon Inge, Josh Reddick, and Yoenis Cespedes. With Reddick going down on strikes, Doubront now has six Ks through the first three frames.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- The Red Sox are getting some decent contact off of Jarrod Parker, but to no avail through the first two innings. Cody Ross manages to knock one to the wall for a single, but despite working a decent at bat, Marlon Byrd flies out to center field to end the inning.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- Felix Doubront works around a leadoff ground-rule double surrendered on a far too hittable 0-2 pitch to Kila Ka'aihue by striking out Anthony Recker and Jemile Weeks. It's taking Doubront far too long to record outs, however, as he has already thrown 50 pitches through two innings. Some unfavorable calls from the umpiring crew hasn't helped him so far, but this is also just a matter of a guy who struggles to put people away having difficulty against a lineup that doesn't swing through too many pitches.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- A much cleaner start for Jarrod Parker than Felix Doubront, as Oakland's young righty plunks Ryan Sweeney, but otherwise keeps the Sox off the basepaths, striking out Dustin Pedroia and getting Adrian Gonzalez to ground weekly to first for the third out of the inning.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- It's about the worst example of striking out the side you'll ever see, as Felix Doubront lets the Athletics take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first despite recording all three outs by way of the K.
Jemile Weeks got the Athletics rolling with a soft line drive that just barely got past the glove of Mike Aviles for a single. Doubront would battle back to strike out Brandon Inge looking on three pitches, but then lost the ball beneath the strike zone to walk Josh Reddick. With Yoenis Cespedes able to knock a low, outside fastball through the infield for a single, the Athletics took the 1-0 lead before Felix Doubront ended the inning with two more strikeouts.
The Red Sox will be without Kevin Youkilis for a third straight night Tuesday as they take on Jarrod Parker and the Oakland Athletics in Fenway Park. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI.
It's one thing to be without Kevin Youkilis, who continues to struggle with a tight lower back. Through the first 18 games of his season, Youkilis has struggled at the plate to the tune of a .219/.292/.344 batting line, so it's not like the Sox are losing a great deal of production from third without Youkilis. No, the problem lies in his replacement: Nick Punto.
Not only has Nick Punto been completely absent at the plate this year, dropping below even Youkilis with a line of .182/.269/.227 (and much of it coming from weak bloops that happened to fall in), but his usually sure glove has been missing as well. First he was complicit in the defensive wreck that was Daniel Bard's first start, but he twice made a mess of things in the field last night, allowing a run to score on a semi-botched rundown and dropping what could have been a crucial pop-up in the seventh.
If Youkilis doesn't show signs of improvement soon, it can't be long before Will Middlebrooks is on the way up.
Boston Red Sox (11-11)
Oakland Athletics (11-13)
David Ortiz homered twice to help the Red Sox survive a late collapse from Clay Buchholz and the bullpen Monday night as they defeated the Oakland Athletics 11-6.
Still looking for his first quality start of the year, Clay Buchholz struggled with inconsistency early on, but still managed to keep runs off the board for the most part. Having his best success when he stayed away from the fastball, Buchholz would see a run come across in the second when Nick Punto ignored Kurt Suzuki breaking for home as he tried to catch Daric Barton in the midst of a rundown.
Buchholz wouldn't allow another run for the next four innings, however, keeping the Athletics off the board while the Red Sox went to work on junkballer Tommy Milone. David Ortiz erased the Oakland lead in just five pitches, rocketing a solo shot into the bullpens before a series of singles and an error from Jemile Weeks brought three more in to score. Ortiz would come up to bat again in the third, leading off the inning with a walk and then scoring as Darnell McDonald made it 6-1 with a homer off the top of the Monster.
Ortiz would homer again in the bottom of the fifth, as the Sox blew the game open with five more runs, including a three-run shot from Mike Aviles into the Monster seats that made it 11-1. The game would get tense in a hurry, however, as Clay Buchholz struggled in the seventh, allowing a five-run rally capped off by Josh Reddick going deep to right for three. Junichi Tazawa was called into the game with little time to prepare in the pen, put two men on, and then induced a crucial pop-up...which Nick Punto proceeded to drop, loading the bases. Thankfully, Vicente Padilla would prove up to the task of saving Boston's bacon, striking out Daric Barton to end the frame.
Scott Atchison would quickly put the Sox back in danger by loading the bases with zero outs in the eighth, but struck out Coco Crisp and then turned the ball over to Franklin Morales. While Morales nearly allowed the rally to continue, giving up a soft line drive up the middle, Dustin Pedroia made a tremendous play to scoop up the ball, hurry to second, and fire a strike to first for the inning-ending double play. Alfredo Aceves pitched a relatively painless ninth, and the Red Sox went home winners.
The Amazing Ortiz: Coming into tonight's game, David Ortiz had a .444 OBP and .654 SLG against lefties, and a .444 OBP and .655 SLG against righties. With two homers and a walk against a lefty tonight, those first two numbers are now much improved, and Ortiz will end April with a .405 average, six homers, 20 RBI, and a 1.184 OPS.
It's been a good month.
Inconsistent Buchholz: In the third, fourth, and sixth, Buchholz seemed like his old self, inducing ground balls and throwing decent curveballs and changeups to get batters out. In the first, second, and fifth, he was giving away free passes and surrendering line drives--though he was lucky enough to have them find Marlon Byrd in center.
The implosion in the seventh, sadly, was not unforeseeable. And because of it, it's hard to take this as an encouraging outing. For proof of that, you need look no further than Buchholz himself, who was visibly distraught as he was pulled from the game, brushing past Bobby Valentine and his teammates with his head down as he retreated to the bullpen.
Nick Punto Serves No Purpose: Nick Punto made a good play and drew a walk--and still managed to have a horrible game. He was inattentive to allow the run to score during the rundown in the second, looked mostly overmatched at the plate while the rest of the team was dominating, and managed to drop a crucial pop-up that could have been huge. How much longer can the team afford to play this no-bat defensive replacement who has suddenly forgotten how to field consistently?
Bobby Valentine Lights Fires: Another day with a slow hook for Bobby V, who watches Clay Buchholz give up a hit, walk, and line drive out and still doesn't even get a reliever warming until he's surrendered another walk and allowed two runs to come in. Had Bobby Valentine been more prepared in the seventh and quicker with the hook, Buchholz might have something to build on here instead of just another disappointment. Add to that a curious decision to replace Vicente Padilla with Scott Atchison after five pitches and not to pinch hit Ryan Sweeney for Lars Anderson when Sweeney came in to play the field in the next inning, and it's just another in a series of terribly managed games by Bobby Valentine.
The Red Sox and Athletics are set to kick off their three-game series in Fenway Park, as Clay Buchholz tries to get his season turned 'round against Tommy Milone and an unimpressive Oakland lineup.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox aren't exactly looking their best either right about now. Kevin Youkilis is out for the second straight game, leaving a back-four of Kelly Shoppach, Darnell McDonald, Marlon Byrd, and Nick Punto. Given the lefty on the mound it's not quite as bad as it looks, but it's not pretty, either.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 11, Final -- Alfredo Aceves gives up a Fenway double, but strikes out the first two batters he faces and gets a pop-up for the final out of a stressful game.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 11, End 8th -- One inning after saving the Sox some runs, Dustin Pedroia tries to get them scoring some more, doubling off the wall in center with two outs. After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, however, Lars Anderson pops out to end the threat.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 11, Mid 8th -- Dustin Pedroia!
Let me start again, and just talk a bit about this bullpen. It's a bad bullpen, with a lot of pieces that are virtually interchangeable as "mediocre guy who can maybe get some outs." Vicente Padilla and Scott Atchison are perhaps the clearest examples of this. They're neither of them great pitchers, but they can both throw a fair few innings, and are the sort of guy you're just hoping not to hit a bad day with. Because if you do, then God help you.
So why when Vicente Padilla just picked up a clutch strikeout to end the seventh on five pitches is he instantly replaced by Scott Atchison to start the eighth? All Bobby Valentine is doing there is to eliminate one of his chances to hit a pitcher who is currently feeling it, and can actually get outs. He's thinning the bullpen.
So Scott Atchison comes on and loads the bases with zero outs, and the Sox have scant few options left because they've needlessly used them up pitching to just the one batter.
Luckily, Atchison manages to record an out, setting up Franklin Morales against a lefty in Josh Reddick. Morales gets ahead 0-2, works a long at bat to get the count full, and then puts the ball on a line that seems destined to end in center field.
That's how we get back to Dustin Pedroia. Sorry, make that Dustin Pedroia! Reacting quickly, Pedroia managed to scoop up the ball on one hop, maintain his momentum to second, and then turn and fire a strike to first for the inning-ending double play. You won't see much better than that from any second baseman in the game.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 11, End 7th -- A decent start to the inning with a walk for Kelly Shoppach ends on a sour note with Darnell McDonald flying out and Marlon Byrd grounding into a double play.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 11, Mid 7th -- Surprise of surprises, Clay Buchholz has imploded, Bobby Valentine was late with the hook, and Nick Punto almost pressed the self destruct button on this whole mess.
Staying true to his on-off form of the night, Clay Buchholz was decidedly off in the seventh inning. It started innocently enough, with a ground ball being placed perfectly for a single just past Mike Aviles. The next plate appearance was a bit more ominous, with Daric Barton drawing a walk to put two on with no outs.
Buchholz would luck out some when Brandon Inge hit a rocket right to Mike Aviles, and almost escaped the inning as the Sox just barely missed turning two on Cliff Pennington's ground ball. That would be the last out Buchholz would record, however, as a walk to Jemile Weeks loaded the bases, and a sharp ground ball single for Coco Crisp plated two runs. With Junichi Tazawa only just having begun to warm, Buchholz was left in to face Josh Reddick, hung a curveball, and was punished when the former Boston outfielder deposited a long ball into the bullpen.
The Sox would end up having the bases re-loaded when Nick Punto dropped a pop-up after Junichi Tazawa gave up a single and hit a batter, but Vicente Padilla managed to end the inning with a strikeout to keep the score at 11-6.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 11, End 6th -- Brian Fuentes finally settles things down for Oakland, inducing three ground balls to end the inning painlessly.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 11, Mid 6th -- Add the sixth to the third and fourth in the list of good innings for Clay Buchholz. No lucky outs this time, just good pitching, keeping the ball on the ground leading to one ground ball single, one double play to erase it, and then a strikeout of Seth Smith, who now holds a coveted hat trick.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 11, End 5th -- The Sox have blown the game completely open in the fifth, and now seem set to cruise to their eleventh win of the season. David Ortiz got the scoring going again by launching his second shot of the night to just about the exact same spot in the pens as last time, though this homer is much more of the booming fly ball variety, and Josh Reddick goes tumbling into the pens trying to make the grab.
The inning could have ended with just that, but Darnell McDonald hit a two-out dribbler towards third which Brandon Inge could not convert into an out. With Tommy Milone now finally out of the game, Jordan Norberto hung a changeup to Marlon Byrd, who scraped the wall for an RBI double to make it 8-1. Mike Aviles would cap off the inning after a Nick Punto walk with a three-run shot into the Monster seats, snapping out of a mini-slump with an exclamation mark.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 6, Mid 5th -- Clay Buchholz is still keeping runs off the board, but he doesn't exactly look impressive in doing so. Aside from the fourth inning, Buchholz has struggled with control and gotten some outs on very hard hit balls, particularly line drives to center. That's still true in the fifth, as he surrenders a walk to Brandon Inge, hits Cliff Pennington, gets one of those line drive outs from Marlon Byrd, and then has Mike Aviles make a ranging play behind second and flip backhanded to Dustin Pedroia for the out to avoid damage.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 6, End 4th -- The Sox have a quiet inning for a change, as Tommy Milone settles down to retire Mike Aviles, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez 1-2-3.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 6, Mid 4th -- Clay Buchholz has a 1-2-3 inning, finally managing to place a curveball low to strike out Seth Smith, and then had Nick Punto make a good play to snag a ball left of the third base bag and throw strong to first for the out. So, hey, he can do things that aren't bad, too.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 6, End 3rd -- The Red Sox add on two more off of the beleaguered Tommy Milone, who walked David Ortiz to lead off the inning and then surrendered a 2-run shot off the top of the Monster in left-center.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 4, Mid 3rd -- Clay Buchholz actually manages to end the third inning with fewer than 50 pitches on his arm--quite the feat given how the Sox' starters have been pitching early on in games of late.
He did get some help from Josh Reddick. Having thrown just five pitches to record the first out of the inning on a ground ball and surrender a single to Coco Crisp, Buchholz offered up just one more to the impatient Reddick, who went swinging away into an easy inning-ending double play.
Athletics 1, Red Sox 4, End 2nd -- Oakland's lead last all of six pitches into the bottom half of the second, as David Ortiz works the count full and then cleans out a fastball, launching a rocket shot into the bullpens in right to tie it at 1-1.
After a strikeout from Kelly Shoppach, the Sox kept right on rolling as Darnell McDonald worked a long at-bat and found the gap in right on the eighth pitch for a double. Marlon Byrd would quickyl bring him in by hitting a sharp grounder that bounced over the glove of Jemile Weeks at second. Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia both went way outside the zone to hook line dries into left field for singles that made it 3-0, and Adrian Gonzalez helped to make it 4-0 when, after grounding into the shift, Weeks again proved incapable of making the easy play, leaving his throw to first short and having it bounce over Daric Barton's glove as Aviles scampered home.
Althetics 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- Clay Buchholz looks bad, and Nick Punto is not good at baseball. Those are the lead stories in inning number two, which saw the Athletics push across the first run of the game.
While Buchholz was able to strike out the first batter he faced in Seth Smith, commanding the outside part of the plate, he would leave a flat fastball over the plate to Kurt Suzuki, who promptly singled into left. Losing control of the strike zone, particularly inside, Buchholz would walk Daric Barton to put two men on. He was lucky enough to have Brandon Inge's line drive find Marlon Byrd in the outfield for the second out instead of a run-scoring hit, but the Athletics still weren't fooled in the least.
The Sox could well have ended the inning without a run despite all this because, when Cliff Pennington singled into left, the ball found Darnell McDonald fast enough that the lead runner in Suzuki had no chance to score. Even better, when Daric Barton rounded second, he slipped, leaving him dead in the water. Amazingly, though, with Barton caught in the rundown, Nick Punto completely ignored the lead runner in Kurt Suzuki, allowing him to break for home without any sort of defensive resistance.
What value does Nick Punto bring to this Red Sox team? He can't hit, he's been laughable at times on defense. All he does is take up a roster spot.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- Mike Aviles got the Sox off to a slow start with a pop-up for the first out, and Dustin Pedroia was ready to make it two with a ground ball to second were it not for Jemile Weeks, who turned a routine play into an amusingly bad error, letting Pedroia reach first and then steal second with one out.
Brandon Inge would make up for said error, however, when Dustin Pedroia cleaned out an inside fastball and hit a rocket directly at the third baseman, turning a possible RBI single into an out. With Cody Ross going fishing for an 0-2 changeup, Tommy Milone escaped into the second unharmed.
Athletics 0, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Clay Buchholz starts his night off on the right foot with a four-pitch strikeout of Jemile Weeks, finishing him off with a curveball away. Coco Crisp grounded to first for the second out, but Clay missed out on a clean inning by walking former Sox outfielder and patience-free hitter Josh Reddick--a feat that takes real effort. Behind Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes was able to square up a fastball, but Marlon Byrd was placed perfectly to make the grab for the final out.
The Red Sox will be without the services of third baseman Kevin Youkilis for the second straight game Monday, as the right-handed slugger's tight back will keep him out against the left-handed Tommy Milone in the first game of Boston's series against the Athletics. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts by NESN and WEEI.
While the Sox certainly could have used some help against Gavin Floyd Sunday, being without Youkilis against a left-handed pitcher is an even greater waste. That he will be replaced by Nick Punto, who has shown no ability to produce for the Red Sox in his limited opportunities, makes it all the more difficult a pill to swallow.
Even without the help of Youkilis, however, the Sox' lineup seems rather more impressive (at least given the left-handed competition) than that of the Oakland Athletics. Ever struggling to push runs across the plate, the main question tonight will be whether Clay Buchholz can take advantage of such questionable competition to get his season turned around before it's too late.
Boston Red Sox (10-11)
Oakland Athletics (11-12)
The Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound Monday, hoping for better results from the weakest link of their rotation as he takes on the American League's worst offense in the Athletics.
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