Talking Points: Buchholz at his best


BATTER OF THE GAME - Xander Bogaerts

I would be pretty surprised if Xander Bogaerts isn't named to the All-Star team. He's not going to win via votes - not even close (what happened to Red Sox Nation?!) but he's playing like one of, if not, the best shortstop in the American League this season. And on top of that, he's probably the Red Sox best hitter this season too. He's certainly their best hitter with runners in scoring position. He improved upon that with two hits with men in scoring position. Bogaerts drove in two runs on Saturday. Mookie Betts also deserves recognition for getting on base three times on Saturday. Betts doubled twice, both times driving in a run (he also had a sac fly).

STARTERS REPORT - Clay Buchholz, take a bow. As good as Buchholz has looked this season, he looked to be at his best on Saturday. Buchholz spun the Sox' first complete game this season, silencing the AL's best offense from start to finish - almost. He allowed a run to cross with two outs in the ninth inning. The Astros never got any sort of rally going in this game, as Buchholz was efficient.

Colin McHugh wasn't impressive and that reflected in the box score. He lasted 5.1 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks with a strikeout. He threw 104 pitches, 61 for strikes. The Sox knocked him out of the sixth when Sandy Sandy Leon singled and Mookie Betts doubled him home in the next at-bat.

BIG PLAY - You don't see this often - A 5-6-3 double play in which the third baseman fields the ball and throws to his right for the first out. That's what happened in the seventh inning with a big switch on for Luis Valbuena. Sandoval (who also had a nice catch falling into the Astros' dugout) fielded the grounder and pivoted the opposite direction he's used to to throw Carlos Correa out at second base, and Xander Bogaerts then threw to Mike Napoli at first base for the double play.

HUSTLE PLAY - I'm not sure it was the smartest idea up 5-0, but give credit to Alejandro De Aza for sliding headfirst into first base and beating out a race to the base in the bottom of the eighth. The hit drove in the Sox' final run. De Aza was inserted into the game in the top of the inning as a defensive replacement for Hanley Ramirez in left.

WHAT I LIKED - Clay Buchholz's performance comes at a time where trade talks begin to hear up, as the Sox will decide whether or not to keep Buchholz and take advantage of his improved pitching (and cheap contract), or deal him for a good return. The latter would only become a more realistic option if the Sox seriously fell out of contention. And with Buchholz anchoring the staff, games such as Saturday's at least continue to give them a chance to crawl back into the running. He's been better and more consistent than anybody imagined him being this season - and that's why some are pushing for a trade while his value is high. Still, if you trade Buchholz, you might have a historically bad staff the rest of the way . . .

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE - The Red Sox 4-7 hitters combined to go 0-for-16. (Not including De Aza's infield single as a replacement for Ramirez), with David Ortiz reaching two times via walk. That's . . . not great. Luckily the bottom and the top of the order strung together enough hits to get the Sox going.

WHAT'S NEXT - The Red Sox and Astros close out the series in a Sunday matinee game as Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.92 ERA) takes on Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.19 ERA).



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