I gleamed with joy earlier this week after seeing the Red Sox edge out the Orioles to move into first place in the American League East. Sweeping the last place New York Yankees and moving into first place make the Red Sox serious contenders for the playoffs, that is if they continue playing well, which isn’t always the case. Regardless, my excitement was briefly interrupted Wednesday when other fans and I saw that Clay Buchholz would be starting the second game in a series between the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, who are leading the American League in wins at 19.
Moans and groans could be heard throughout New England in the hours leading up to the game. My friend David’s Facebook status said it all: “Buchholz, tonight is your night. Let’s see some of that all star pitching you were once capable of.” Frankly, David’s status was probably the most optimistic of all the opinions people in Red Sox Nation had about Buchholz before he took the mound and staved off the White Sox in a 5-2 win Wednesday night.
Buchholz went into the game with a 6.51 ERA after having lost all of his starts this season, making many wonder why he was still with the team. Even Buchholz himself admitted frustration. “You see them every day, 0-3 with a 6-something (ERA) is obviously not where you want to be,” Buchholz told ESPN. But despite giving up a home run in the first inning, Buchholz walked only two to take his first win of the season. Buchholz’s win over the White Sox is particularly significant, especially since the Red Sox were showing signs in April of repeating the blunders of the last two seasons and finishing at the bottom of the cellar. “The Red Sox still have to do a better job against opposing lefties,” says ESPN’s Christina Kahrl, “but scoring multiple runs in a game and getting into the win column against one is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Kahrl has the right idea. If the Red Sox can continue their hitting streak, and Buchholz can harness his new-found confidence, then this successful stride will make the Red Sox serious contenders in the post-season.