Today's game is one that looked all too familiar for Rays fans. They were on the verge of being no hit for the fifth time in the past five seasons until Kelly Johnson lead off the eighth inning with a single. Boston starter Clay Buchholz was magnificent, working eight innings and dominating the Rays' lineup.
It's games like this that make you wonder why Buchholz hasn't put up better numbers over his career. He's been outstanding this season with former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell now his manager. The last time Farrell worked with Buchholz was 2010 and all he did was put up a 2.33 ERA over 173 innings. Today he kept the Rays off balance with a nice mixture of pitches, using his changeup especially well. He threw the pitch 19 times for 14 strikes and seven whiffs. He did walk four batters, giving the Rays some scoring chances, but in what seems to be a trend this season, they failed to cash in.
The Rays' offense, 0-11 in yesterday's 2-1 loss with RISP, failed to register a hit today as well going 0-6. The hits came from Johnson, Desmond Jennings, and Evan Longoria. Ben Zobrist added two walks while James Loney and Fuld added one apiece.
Alex Cobb didn't pitch poorly, working into the seventh inning despite a hectic third. After a leadoff single from Jacoby Ellsbury a bunt was laid down by Shane Victorino that trickled up the third base line. It went into foul territory in short order, but rolled back fair before Jose Molina could get a hand on it. When he did decide to pick it up replays showed it was likely headed back foul. There was no reason for him to pick it up when he did -- Ellsbury wasn't going to take third. A single by Dustin Pedroia loaded the bases for Mike Napoli who crushed a double into the triangle in right-center, scoring two. An error by Yunel Escobar two batters later allowed the Red Sox to tack on two more.
As per usual for Cobb his changeup was his best pitch, registering a strike percentage of 88%. As Tommy Rancel pointed out on Twitter, it was a very Shieldsian performance. He had one rough inning but rebounded to work deep enough into the game so that the bullpen wasn't affected.
Tomorrow is an early start thanks to Patriot's Day. Jeremy Hellickson and Ryan Dempster will toe the rubber at 11:05 as the Rays try to avoid the sweep.