Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Game of the Day (8/25/14)

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3 (10). Toronto's JA Happ faced Boston's Clay Buchholz. Both of them debuted in 2007, Buchholz as a top prospect and Happ as a relative afterthought. Buchholz has indeed been the better pitcher overall - but not by nearly as much as would have been expected seven years ago.

Happ allowed a Yoenis Cespedes single in the first and a hit by Daniel Nava in the second, but stranded both runners; Buchholz was spotless in both innings. In the top of the third, Christian Vazquez singled and Brock Holt walked, but Dustin Pedroia flied out and Vazquez was thrown out trying for third, cooling off a potential rally. Danny Valencia's single in the bottom of the inning made him the first Blue Jay to reach base, but none of his teammates joined him and he would be left at second.

Happ and Buchholz exchanged perfect fourths. Happ also retired the first batter in the fifth, but Mookie Betts followed with a solo homer to open the scoring; Vazquez then walked and Pedroia homered as well, making the lead 3-0. Buchholz walked Edwin Encarnacion to start the bottom of the inning, but retired the next three hitters, and he and Happ were both flawless in the sixth.

Todd Redmond relieved Happ in the top of the seventh and allowed a walk and steal to Betts, but nothing else. Adam Lind singled in the bottom of the inning, and Buchholz erased him on an Encarnacion double play ball. Redmond and Buchholz both threw 1-2-3 eighths. Nava singled and stole second in the top of the ninth, but Redmond left him there to give the Jays one more chance.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera singled, and Jose Bautista walked to load the bases and chase Buchholz. Koji Uehara took the mound and allowed an RBI groundout to Lind; Steve Tolleson ran for Lind, and Encarnacion whacked a game-tying two-run double. Uehara recovered to retire Dioner Navarro, leaving the winning run at second and sending the game to extras.

Aaron Sanchez relieved Redmond in the top of the tenth and allowed a one-out Holt single. Holt then stole both second and third, and came home on a two-out hit by Cespedes. Craig Breslow walked Valencia in the bottom of the inning, but left him on to end the game.

This was a game of big things and little things. The Sox took the lead to begin with because JA Happ couldn't keep the ball in the park in the fifth inning. They took it back after a last-out rally because Aaron Sanchez and Dioner Navarro couldn't hold the leadoff man on base. That combination (plus a fine start from Clay Buchholz) is a good way to come out with a win.

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