In talking about his former team last week, Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis told the Boston Herald that Red Sox’s top-of-the-rotation starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz “are guys that are going to make them click.”
So, although the Sox are off to their best start since 2006, the biggest reason for optimism may be that Lester and Buchholz have combined to allow only three earned runs in 26 innings over their first two starts.
Their past two games have been particularly uplifting. Lester blanked the Toronto Blue Jays for seven innings Sunday, and in the Sox’s home opener Monday, Buchholz allowed only five hits and four walks while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings. He also threw 113 pitches, more than in all but two starts last season.
“They’re stud pitchers,” catcher David Ross said of Lester and Buchholz. “They’ve always been really good. From day one in spring training, I was excited when I signed here to be able to catch those guys. I know those guys are horses. I know they’re front-end starters of the rotation on anybody’s team in the major leagues. It’s not a shocker to me. They know they’re good. We know they’re good. I enjoy catching everybody on this team.”
Hanrahan can’t close it out
The Orioles ended a four-game skid Wednesday night by beating Boston 8-5 at Fenway Park. Baltimore rallied with five runs in the ninth inning to beat the host Red Sox.
Manny Machado’s three-run homer in the ninth proved to be the difference for Baltimore.
Chris Davis led off the ninth inning with a homer to center off closer Joel Hanrahan (0-1), whose attempt at his second save of the season unraveled in disaster.
Flaherty came through with his first hit of the year. Hanrahan loaded the bases by walking Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth, then threw a slider in the dirt on his first pitch to Machado, allowing the tying run to score.
Machado blasted the next pitch he saw for a homer to left, clearing the bases and giving the Orioles an 8-5 lead in a game they were one strike away from losing.
Boston’s Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit back-to-back homers in the sixth to break a 3-all tie after a 43-minute rain delay following the fifth inning. The Red Sox bullpen pitched three scoreless innings before calling on Hanrahan to finish off the Orioles.
Red Sox notes
Alfredo Aceves, Boston’s closer at one point last season, is making his first start of the season. He’s carrying a whopping 10.38 ERA in two relief appearances, allowing five runs five hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Ryan Dempster’s Fenway Park debut pitching for the Red Sox got off to a shaky start. He threw 42 pitches through two innings and had to get himself out of a jam in the first when Nate McLouth led off with a walk and advanced to third on an error. McLouth scored when Nick Markakis grounded out to first, then Dempster struck out Adam Jones and Chris Davis to end the threat.
Shane Victorino drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, but his streak of reaching base in every game as a member of the Red Sox ended at seven straight games. The free-agent headliner Boston signed in the offseason went 0-for-3 and committed the Red Sox’s first error of the season on a fly ball to right in the first.
Daniel Nava’s homer to left in the sixth was his third in three games. He also hit a three-run shot Monday as the Red Sox won the series opener 3-1. Nava is batting .467 in five games.
John Lackey was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right biceps. Lackey missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He’s expected to miss at least one start.
Stephen Drew (concussion) went on the seven-day concussion disabled list retroactive to March 27. He finished a rehab assignment with Double-A Portland on April 8. He was activated Wednesday.
Quote to note
“You got your closer in the game, the ballgame locked up. It’s tough. Even when he misses usually they go by people. Tonight just wasn’t his night but nine times out of 10, I guarantee you he’ll close the door and we’re going to count on that.” — C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan blowing the save Wednesday night vs. Baltimore.