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On paper, the match up between the American League Cy Young award frontrunner in Clay Buchholz and far from perfect Philip Humber looked like a potential Boston blowout. And at least on this Thursday night at Fenway Park, the reality was close to those expectations.
The Boston Red Sox improved to an impressive 15-7 mark as they soared past the lowly Houston Astros 7-2. The win was highlighted by the first home run of 2013 by David Ortiz, as well as more filthy stuff from Buchholz, who struck out 10 Astros over 7.2 innings of work. The right-handed pitcher improved to 5-0 on the young season, though his ERA increased all the way up to 1.19.
The Sox started things off right, blasting Humber for four first inning runs. The 30-year old righty tossed a perfect game last April against the Seattle Mariners, when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox, but has since been shaky at best. Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia delivered RBI base hits to make it 2-0, before Mike Carp doubled to drive in a third Boston run. Jarrod Saltalamacchia capped off the inning with an RBI base hit of his own, one of two for Salty on the night.
Ortiz led off the third inning with a solo home run to straight away center field. It was his first home run of the season after recently returning from his heel injury, and gave Boston a 5-2 lead after Houston had tacked on a pair of runs over the previous two innings against Buchholz.
After allowing an RBI single to Jason Castro in the third, Buchholz settled down nicely, allowing just one single and one walk from there into the eighth inning, until a two-out base hit by Jose Altuve knocked him out of the game.
The long-awaited 2013 debut of Daniel Bard came in the ninth inning of a 7-2 game. He was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball, though his slider was erratic against Chris Carter, whom Bard eventually struck out on a fastball. After a single to Fernando Martinez, Bard went 3-0 against Matt Dominguez before getting him to ground a comebacker to the mound to end the game. All in all, Bard threw 18 pitches, and 10 for strikes.