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It’s safe to say they needed this win. It’s been a tough interleague road trip out west for the Boston Red Sox, and they headed into Saturday’s game with the 2008 A.L. MVP Dustin Pedroia shelved for what seems to be indefinitely with a fractured left foot. Pedroia suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off that foot in Friday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants, just one night after salvaging the three-game series with the Colorado Rockies (the toughest series of the season so far), going 5-5 and belting three home runs (his best game of the season so far).
Clay Buchholz came into Saturday searching for his 11th win of the season, and faced off against star prospect Madison Bumgarner, making his 2010 debut and only the second start of his career. The Red Sox showed some power early, and managed to hang on for the 4-2 victory, but the day was short-lived for Buccholz after he left the game in the top of the 2nd inning with a leg injury suffered when he came up lame running the bases on a Marco Scutaro grounder. There’s more than a couple of guys in the Sox clubhouse cursing interleague play; they’re dropping like flies nowadays.
Considering this team is only three games out of first place as we approach the All-Star Break, there’s a great deal of credit to be given to this organization. Terry Francona has to be the first half favorite for Manager of the Year; and the way this team has plugged in different players from their farm system to contribute and keep this team afloat has been remarkable. It has truly been a day-to-day operation in every sense of the phrase. Just look at this list: Beckett, Ellsbury, Lowell, Hermida, Matsuzaka. J.D. Drew is J.D. Drew. Mike Cameron won’t be 100% all season and is probably looking at surgery. Kevin Youkilis is nicked up. And now Pedroia and Buchholz. While an OK outlook could be gleened on Clay’s injury (a hyper-extended left knee) from Terry Francona’s in-game interview with Fox (I would hate having to do those if I was a manager), you still never want to see your best starting pitcher limping off the field in the second inning of a game you really need.
Things started off well with a first inning solo home run by Darnell McDonald, his fifth of the season. Buchholz got out of a mini jam in his first and only inning of work, and looked well on his way to an 11th win after Mike Cameron hit a three-run jack and Buchholz himself got on base with his first career hit. That would prove to be all the scoring the Red Sox had in them, however, and lead to trouble in the form of Buchholz’s injury. Scott Atchison filled in well with 2 1/3 innings of one-run and one-hit ball, and the Boston bullpen worked very well to patch the rest of this victory together, with Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard bridging impressively to Jonathan Papelbon for his 17th save.
So while this team isn’t lighting up the All-Star balloting, they are staying competitive in what many would still consider the best division in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays have floundered a bit, capped by being no-hit for an unbelievable second time in this one season, but you have to believe that they will be there along with those Yankees at the end of this thing. This again was a much-needed win for this bunch of wounded warriors, but was still one of those punch-in-the-gut kind of wins that came with the loss of Clay Buccholz to injury. With the way this team is working through injuries and a subsequently inconsistent lineup, many would call on a gut-shot reaction around, say, July 31st, to give this team a boost and help carry it to the finish line. But with every other division in baseball also being anything but a foregone conclusion, impact players will be hard to come by via trade. And while Terry Francona must wake up every morning and look at this roster of walking wounded with a rather large *gulp,* it’s likely the roster he will have to stick with in attempting to secure another postseason berth.
He had the three-run blast to give the Sox enough of a cushion to work with for the victory, as well as a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch with two outs in the eighth to rob Pablo Sandoval of extra bases.
You can have the debate all day. While it is nice to get a glimpse of match-ups we wouldn’t otherwise see unless it was the World Series, it seems somewhat primitive at this point for the two different leagues to have two different rules. As soon as they abolished having separate commissioners for each league, they should have gotten rid of the separate rules. Pitchers pitch. And yes, I’m bitter over the Buchholz injury.
W: Scott Atchison (1-1)
L: Madison Bumgarner (0-1)
SV: Jonathan Papelbon(17)
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Colorado Rockies, Daniel Bard, Darnell McDonald, Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima, J.D. Drew, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Madison Bumgarner, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants, Scott Atchison, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Francona, World Series