The beginning of the 2016 season was a troubled one for Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox had lost all of the games in which he started and he owned an appalling 6.50 ERA. Taking this in to account, the right hander had a pretty crucial outing in Game 2 of the series against the tough Chicago White Sox. But Clay once again surprised the baseball community with seven innings of two-run ball, once again demonstrating the his outings usually fluctuate between the ace-like and the mediocre.
Chicago leads the Majors
The city of Chicago has experienced a surge of fresh baseball. The Chicago Cubs own the best record in the National League and the White Sox have done the same in the American League. The Windy City is right now the pinnacle of baseball and now the White Sox have taken another in-form team, the Boston Red Sox, to a competitive series. With above average starting pitchers, specially lefty Chris Sale, the White Sox have found it easy to dominate their opponents with strikeouts.
Following John Danks' DFA, Carlos Rodon took the hill in the rubber game against Buchholz. He dominated early as the struggles of the Red Sox´lineup against lefty pitchers continued. Rodon cruised through the first innings aided by a towering moonshot from red-hot José Abreu in the first. The Cuban first baseman yet again drove in runs against the Red Sox, remaining consistent to his great streak of performances. The run support helped Rodon punch out batter even though it looked as he had trouble gripping the ball for his usual power slider.
After the Abreu home run, Buchholz settled in pretty well. He found command for his fastball and his changeup was back to its vintage. At one point in the game he retired 16 of 17 batters in a row. In his second at bat after hitting the home run, Abreu was almost hit by an inside pitch. In the next inning Travis Shaw was hit in the elbow but no incidents escalated. The offense picked him up in the top of the third when Xander Bogaerts (another one with great recent numbers) singled to left field to reduce the deficit to one run.
Big Papi strikes again
But it was in the 5th inning when Boston took the lead, who else than Big Papi to absolutely crush the ball to right field for his sixth home run of the season. Rodon had never given up a homer to a left handed hitter, limiting them to just four extra base hits in over 200 at bats. Chicago's offense was overall dominated, being reduced to merely three hits in the ballgame. David Ortiz came up clutch in the seventh to add some insurance runs for the visitors. He beat the shift with a soft single to score Mookie Betts.
Koji Uehara had a perfect eighth inning and closer Craig Kimbrel only surrendered a walk before slamming the door for the White Sox. Junichi Tazawa and Carson Smith were rested with both probably having some action in tomorrow's final game. It seems as though the Red Sox pitching staff has turned it around with great appearances by Rick Porcello (who owns a very respectable 5-0 record), Steven Wright, and now with Clay Buchholz. The only question remains in David Price's capacity to overcome his disappointing April and become the pitcher that is worth 31 million dollars per season.
Tomorrow, both Sox will meet for the series finale at the U.S Cellular Field. Erik Johnson will have his first start of the season against top prospect Henry Owens. The series foreshadows another pitching duel but this time it will face off two young talents that will battle to take the series.