I know he got tagged a little late and I realize that he had a little fielding meltdown, but last night is exhibit A for why Clay Buchholz MUST be in Boston’s starting rotation. Buchholz wasn’t good last night. He was frigging great. His velocity was touching 97, he threw tons of strikes and he seems to have developed a wipeout slider that is a powerful weapon. All told, Buchholz fanned ten and allowed just three fly balls over six and two-thirds. On top of that, he generated TWENTY-SIX swinging strikes, which is almost hard to believe. Granted, he was facing a soft lineup, but those numbers are impressive even after one applies a discount.
To think that some want Clay to toil in the bullpen so 43 year-old Tim Wakefield is shown his proper “respect” is both maddening and asinine. Thankfully, the Sox agree and the debate, assuming there was a debate, has been settled in Clay’s favor. Buchholz can now focus on the job at hand without worrying about his spot in the rotation. And I think he’ll run with the opportunity. God knows it has involved some long and tough sledding, but Buchholz finally seems ready to fulfill his promise, or at least some healthy portion of it. If he can command the ball as he did last night, relax and continue to get ahead of hitters, this guy can be a big winner. Now let’s see it.
* While Clay was dazzling, Ranger CJ Wilson completely shut down the Boston lineup. Pedroia went hitless and he is now just one for his last twenty. That move to the three-hole has worked wonders to cool him off. Scutaro also went hitless and he was just 2-14 in the Texas series. Finally, this week’s hero, Darnell McDonald, was unable to come up big in the 7th when he came to bat with the Sox’ best opportunity of the night. Wilson is a solid lefty but it certainly isn’t a very good sign when the Sox get blanked at home by a southpaw whose name isn’t Cliff or CC or Brett Anderson.
* Victor Martinez has five hits over his past two games so I don’t want to speak too critically, but last night VMart grounded into his 7th double play of the young season. When you factor in those additional outs, Martinez has now been responsible for fifty outs in 59 at bats. That “adjusted” batting average is just .153.
* The story on Adrian Beltre over the winter was he just needed to get healthy and get out of Safeco Field. Well, from all accounts , he is healthy, but the release from Safeco has yet to pay any dividends. He is still homerless on the season, he has ONE walk, and worse yet, he has scored just TWO runs. I didn’t expect Adrian to bring a lot of walks with him, but I did expect to see him hit for more power, much more power. The good news is Adrian has traditionally been a slow starter. The bad news is May is by far the worst month on Beltre’s career resume. We need to get this guy started.
* Good friend Julio Lugo returns to Fenway tonight. For those who looked at those STL numbers last August and wondered why the Sox had foolishly let Jules go, take a look at these numbers: Julio is 3-28 with two walks in 2010.
* Stolen Base Watch: I guess it’s a good night when opposing base runners ONLY swipe two bases. That brings the total on the year to 36 (of 37). I am curious to see what happens with Baltimore coming to town as the Birds have just three steals on the year and two of those were registered by the injured Brian Roberts.
Let’s see if Jon Lester can figure things out tonight and join us in 2010.