Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crumbling Clay?

So maybe my predictions were a little TOO optimistic, but I stand by what I said.  I'm entirely unsurprised that the Red Sox bas were stifled by left-handed rookie Zach Britton (who I have now added to my fantasy team), as thy've been struggling mightily against lefties this season, and Britton has been quite effective thus far.

However, things are looking up: the Orioles have two righthanders going for them in the next two games, and the Sox have Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on the docket, two of the hottest starters on staff - though, to be fair, the only starter NOT on a roll seems to be Mr. Clay Buchholz...

And speaking of Clay, he was very impressive at points last night, despite the four runs and 12 hits he gave up in 6.2 innings.  Three of Baltimore's runs came on sacrifice flies, which is interesting, even if it doesn't absolve Buchholz of any blame (he is, after all, the one who let the runners get to third base).

The most impressive moment, in my opinion, was in the second inning, after Matt Wieters hit that squibbler down the first base line that should have been an out but bounced off the bag and scored the runner.  Clay buckled down and struck out the next two batters he faced, a beautiful sequence of pitching.

So why didn't this dominance continue throughout the game?  Obviously, Clay Buchholz has the physical tools to dominate any lineup, and he was able to do it last night, at least in short bursts and flashes.  When asked about his performance, Buchholz mentioned "tipping [his] hat" to the Baltimore lineup, intimating that he had executed his pitches, and all TWELVE of their hits had been due to their own prodigious skill and not any mistkaes of his.

Sorry Clay, but I'm calling shenanigans on that.  The Orioles just aren't that good.  Sure, they don't look to be the laughingstock that they once were, but they're also no Murderer's Row.  Perhaps the focus just wasn't there last night, or maybe he needs more time to get a handle on his stuff, but the four runs given up last night were not luck, and they weren't a fluke.  Buch should take a leaf out of Beckett's book, and admit when he doesn't have his best stuff.

I do recognize that if the bats hadn't been so effective;y silenced by Britton this post would look very different: we would be celebrating the Red Sox' triumphant turn to .500 (which must now wait at least two more games) and their sixth straight victory.  So yes, the lineup takes some of the blame for this loss - scoring 5 runs is not out of the real of possibility for this team, and they were shut down by a hotshot rookie.

But I'm less worried about the hitters on this team than I am about Buch.  Not that I'm SUPER concerned about him, I think he'll get back on track, but at the very least I think he should be honest and look back on what wasn't working last night. Growth and improvement comes from reflection.

Sadly, I'll be missing tonight's matchup between Beckett and Jeremy Guthrie, because I'm attending a tango lesson in Buenos Aires (I know, tough life).  However, my thoughts, as always, will be at Camden Yards with the Red Sox - tonight should be better than last night.

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