|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Clay Buchholz had another mediocre showing on the mound but was bailed out with major run support from his Red Sox teammates, who managed to break their 4-game losing streak with an 8-6 win over the Athletics on Friday night. Coming back from a 4-0 deficit after the top of the 1st inning, the Sox got some offensive help from the usual suspects Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis, as well as some key contributions from Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Jed Lowrie and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The win puts them at second place in the AL East, just 1 game behind the New York Yankees and 2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. Continuing their chase to get back to first place, the Sox will play the second of their three-game series against Oakland on Saturday, 1pm at Fenway Park.
David Ortiz continues to be Ole Faithful, delivering 2 RBI on 2 hits and scoring 1 run while batting in the important 5th spot behind Gonzalez and Youkilis.
Jacoby Ellsbury deserves credit for setting the tone early offensively; stealing a base and displaying great base running on a wild pitch to get to third; putting him in a position to score on a what would have been a fruitless ground out from Gonzo.
Jonathan Papelbon continues to have a much improved season from 2010, throwing 9 strikes in 11 pitches and earning his 11th save on the year.
Dustin Pedroia was nowhere to be found for the evening, producing absolutely nothing in 5 at bats. While the rest of the 5 guys at the top of the order are holding down their end of the bargain, Pedroia seems to be struggling to find a groove. Luckily he doesn’t usually slump for too long.
Clay Buchholz, anytime you get your team into a 4-0 hole in the first inning of a game, you are setting them up to struggle. Fortunately the Red Sox have hit their stride at the plate lately, so the pitching woes have been somewhat underplayed. While Buccholz’ ERA of 3.82 is pretty good, he’s had some extremely shaky starts that are unsettling. He needs to work on starting out strong in early innings to set the tone for himself and his club.