The rain pelted Fenway Park for over two hours Saturday afternoon, suspending play after two innings. It looked like another strong start by a Red Sox pitcher would be washed away, and Terry Francona would have to cobble seven innings from an already overworked bullpen.
Problem is, nobody told Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz threw five scoreless innings despite the long delay, the bullpen followed suit, and the Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Minnesota Twins, 4-0.
Buchholz, Bullpen Dominant
The Red Sox used five pitchers Saturday, who combined to limit the Twins to just seven base-runners. They surrendered just three hits – two by Buchholz, all three singles – while walking two. They struck out 10 (four by Twins right fielder Jason Kubel)
Buchholz’s featured a strong 12-6 breaking ball Saturday that fell out from under Twins swings. He used a deceptively high fastball that right-handed hitters swung under. He threw 14 first-pitch strikes (to 18 batters), seven swinging strikes, and 44 strikes out of 61 total pitches.
After the fifth, Buchholz’s teammates were visibly congratulatory on his gutsy performance, which earned him his third win and lowered his ERA to 4.19. The bullpen followed Buchholz with four scoreless innings, highlighted by Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon retiring the Twins 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth.
Matt Albers pitched a scoreless seventh, lowering his ERA to 0.84.
Defense Backs Up Pitchers
Lowrie’s fifth-inning dive wasn’t the only strong defensive play. With two down in the second, Marco Scutaro dove to his left to field a grounder up the middle, then flipped his glove to Dustin Pedroia while still on the ground. Pedroia changed his footing so he could fully extend to grab Scutaro’s throw on a bounce for the final out.
In the sixth, reliever Rich Hill put two Twins on base with no outs, but then Hill got Justin Morneau to ground it to Adrian Gonzalez. Hill sprinted towards first base while Gonzalez threw it to Scutaro covering second, so Hill was perfectly positioned for Scutaro’s throw to complete the double-play.
In the eighth, Scutaro charged a slow roller from leadoff hitter Denard Span and fielded it quick enough to gun Span down at first.
Red Sox Score Early, Add Late
The Red Sox took an immediate 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a leadoff double, stole third base, and came home on a Lowrie single to left with two outs.
Twins starter Brian Duensing started but did not last through the rain delay, and replacement Kevin Slowey fared no better. He gave up a one-out ground-rule double to Gonzalez in the third, who scored on a Kevin Youkilis single off the Green Monster.
The Red Sox banged out 12 hits and drew three walks Saturday, but the biggest hit may have come in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded, Ellsbury drove a 2-1 pitch from reliever Alex Burnett back up the middle, scoring Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Carl Crawford.
Ellsbury, Youkilis, Scutaro and Crawford each finished the game with two hits. Crawford is now on a seven-game hitting streak, has had multiple hits in four of those games, and is batting .210.
Pedroia and Lowrie each hit a single and reached on a walk.