Buch off, Blue Jays

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1.

Well, you can’t ask for a much better start to the second half of the season than what we got last night. Among the highlights of the night:

1) Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer.

2) David Ortiz continued to improve with a key 2 RBI double.

3) The Sox beat a great young pitcher in Ricky Romero.

4) Papelbon picked up another save.

5) I got to see Daniel Bard pitch.

6) Most importantly, Clay Bucholz shined in his first major league start of 2009. He went 5 2/3 innings, struck out 3, and only gave up 1 run. All of his pitches looked major-league ready, especially a great fastball at 95 mph and a pretty nifty change-up that was about 10-15 mph slower. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes, and he was excellent at throwing first-pitch strikes throughout his outing. I thought he looked consistently good throughout the evening, loads better than he did in 2008. And that means two things for the Red Sox: he can pitch well for us in the years to come, or he can be used as trade bait to net us a really good player.

I liked that the Sox went with Bucholz to start the second half, especially considering it was in Toronto. Any trade for Doc Halladay would have to include Clay Bucholz, so this was an excellent way to show off what he can do to the Blue Jays and their fans. In some ways it was a courtesy, since now a trade won’t sting so bad for the fans, having seen what they’ll be getting in return. I still don’t believe a trade for Halladay is in the long term interest of the Red Sox organization, but I’m beginning to see that this Red Sox team is 95% of a World Series caliber team. They’re still weak at shortstop (no longer at 3rd if Lowell can stay health and productive), but otherwise they’re very good. Adding a pitcher as dominant as Halladay probably would get them a championship this year, and it HAS been almost two years since any Boston sports team won anything (I’m being tounge-in-cheek here). The thought of a playoff rotation of Lester, Beckett, Halladay and Wakefield (probably) kind of makes me salivate a little bit. Couple that with a dynamic offense that’s strong at least 1-6 or 7 (Tek and Green are really the only weaker hitters left) and you probably have a World Series title, at least on paper. And as a fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing that, not one bit.

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