In a September sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park, there was no shortage of moments for the Red Sox to celebrate. The most important takeaway from Sunday’s 9-2 blowout, though, was the fact that Clay Buchholz looked strong in his second start back from the DL, offering further evidence that he has returned as a pitcher capable of being a postseason difference-maker for a team that is steamrolling towards the playoffs.
The Sox took advantage of a shaky outing from Ivan Nova, who gave up five runs (four earned) and exited in the fifth inning without recording an out in the frame. Nova walked four batters, threw a wild pitch and hit Mike Carp, the last batter he faced, with the bases loaded to bring home a run.
Buchholz gave up one run, unearned, on just two Yankee hits over six innings. The fact that he pitched into the sixth, and effectively, was a significant positive in itself, as he was held to just 74 pitches in his first outing after returning from the DL.
Buchholz did struggle with his command: in four of his six innings, he either walked or hit the leadoff batter. Double plays helped keep him out of trouble, especially in the third inning, when he put men on first and second with one out but got a grounder to second for an inning-ending twin kill.
Overall, though, the fact that Buchholz has now thrown 11 innings without an earned run since returning to the rotation is what matters most to the Sox. After missing three months with a shoulder injury, he’s stepped right back onto the field without any significant problems. Indeed, he’s dropped his ERA from 1.71 before landing on the DL to 1.51 now — the lowest mark by any starter with at least 90 innings pitched since Bob Gibson‘s 1.12 mark in 1968.
With Sunday’s win, the Sox finish 13-6 against Yankees on the year, making them the first team since the 1976 Orioles to win 13 games against the Yankees. That’s made a significant difference in the division race, as the Yankees trailed the Sox by 11 1/2 games entering Sunday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
- Mike Napoli hit his 22nd home run of the year in the first inning, a towering drive that soared into the center field stands and brought home David Ortiz as well. That was his fifth homer in 13 September games.
Seven of Napoli’s 22 homers this year have come against the Yankees (against seven different pitchers). Three of those came earlier this month, when he went deep against Boone Logan on Sept. 6, then did it twice in the next day’s game.
Napoli is hitting .375 against the Yankees on the year, his second-highest average against any team he’s faced at least three times. Thanks to those seven homers and three doubles, he’s also slugging .818 against them.
This isn’t a new phenomenon for Napoli. Over the course of his career, he’s hitting .340/.454/.647 with 12 homers against the Yankees.
- Daniel Nava went 4-for-5, tying a career high with four hits for just the fifth time in his career. It was also his fifth multi-hit game in September. He’s now hitting .400 with a .461 OBP since August 8.
Nava’s .392 OBP on the year is the fifth-best in the AL, trailing only David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Sox manager John Farrell had no shortage of praise for Nava before Sunday’s game.
“I think any time there’s a willingness to take constructive feedback and work as hard as he has to overcome maybe a deficiency of the moment, it’s a guy you root for, because this is a story is like no other in the game,” Farrell said. “To perform at the level he is right now, this is something that no one could ever foresee. And the work that he’s put in, he’s the one is deserving of all the credit that comes his way.”
- Leading 3-1 in the fourth inning, the Sox decided to be daring on the bases. Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole home as Xander Bogaerts stole second, giving them a 4-1 cushion.
The first time the Sox stole home this season, it was the speedier Shane Victorino executing the play on July 23. Saltalamacchia has just three stolen bases this season, and those three account for 75 percent of his career total. But the double steal worked perfectly – albeit with some help from Brendan Ryan, who bobbled the ball – as Bogaerts drew the throw to second, allowing Saltalamacchia to take home with no trouble.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
- Napoli broke Mark Bellhorn‘s single-season strikeout record, swinging over a slider from Adam Warren in the fifth inning for his 177th of the year and then watching a low slider from Joba Chamberlain for strike three in the sixth.
Napoli didn’t agree with the latter call, and his argument with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa got him ejected from the game for the first time in his career.
Patriots Safety Devin McCourty joined Glenn, Lou, and Christian, and talked about covering the Steelers Wide Receivers, and how he's helping the players who are in the AFC Championship for the first time prepare.
ProFootball Talk's Mike Florio told Glenn, Lou, and Christian that the Patriots have a quiet confidence that they can outscore the Steelers, since they've proven they have the ability.
Holley and Keefe check in with NFL Network's Heath Evans for some final thoughts on the Houston win and to look ahead at the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about Isaiah Thomas' flagrant foul against the Heat, and also discuss why it's time for the Celtics to address their biggest need.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the "Dale and Holley Show" discuss the latest news on the injury that has kept Isaiah Thomas off the court and how valuable it is for Marcus Smart to stay in control.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of 'The Dale and Holley Show' talk about last night's disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.
Mut, Rob, and John are talking about some of the Hall of Fame candidates who gained or lost support within the last year. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both gained support, while Curt Schilling lost a chunk of votes he had gotten last year.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are in after it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They also talk about some notable candidates who weren't elected this year like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
Rob Bradford is joined by Jackie Bradley Jr. to discuss race in baseball and in Boston, along with the importance of Martin Luther King Day. The Red Sox outfielder also dives into how he never really felt comfortable in a major league clubhouse until last year, the approach he's taking heading into 2017, and why he's not playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Ken, Rear and Ty talk all things Bruins as they come off a 4-0 shutout win in Florida and head to Carolina later today. Did that victory save Claude's job? The boys get into Don Sweeney's recent comments on Claude's job and what the future holds for the black and gold.
"D-Wood" Joins the show to talk Brady vs. Rodgers and predicts a Patriots-Packers Super Bowl.
Hour 4. Bill Belichick holds his Friday press conference while Mut and Kirk try and play a game. Mut has a big announcement. Gerry calls in from the Inauguration on his crystal-clear cell phone.
Hour 3. Ben Volin shares a stat about Trump that will blow your mind. Mut wouldn't answer any questions about Trump's alleged sexual assaults.
Old Friend Tim Benz joins OMF, and while they regale tales of dysfunction, Benz manages to predict that the Patriots will win Sunday.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian enjoy the festivities ahead of the Inauguration, and give their predictions for Patriots-Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian love how Bill Belichick reacts to the plethora of stupid questions he receives from the Media during his Press Conferences.
Dale, Michael and Rich Keefe spend the day discussing the AFC Championship.
We close out the work week with the best sound clips of the day.
We check in with hall of famer Michael Irvin to find out what happened to his Dallas Cowboys and look at the remaining playoff match-ups.
Kirk Minihane brings Chad Finn back to the show to talk about the Charlotte Wilder story about the relationship between the Pats and Trump. Chad defends Charlotte for some of the story and her previous articles, Kirk still has problems with what he thinks is lazy reporting. Kirk and Chad also talk about whether a third sports station in Boston would be viable and if Curt Schilling will ever make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kirk Minihane has a loud and very confrontational argument with media personality John Ziegler about the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky. Kirk believes him to be guilty, John believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sandusky is innocent. Yes, it may be an old case, but you all remember it and this episode may change your mind about some of the things you previously thought with regards to Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.
Kirk Minihane wants to sit down with both sports editors at the major newspapers in Boston. Only Boston Herald sports editor Sean Leahy took Kirk up on the invitation to join the show. What you will hear is a great conversation between two people who are very interested in the newspaper business and how that business has changed over the years and what the future holds for newspapers. Kirk and Sean talk about the ongoing and longstanding rivalry between the Herald and Globe.
Uncle Buck, George from S**t Pats Fans Say, and Jerry Thornton talk about the Patriots history in the AFC Championship game, the big wins, the bad losses, and what it will take for the Pats to win another AFC Championship game.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis wrap up the K&C week after a Friday show with Kirk, Mut and Ben Volin in studio.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap the Thursday K&C show featuring Jon Meterparel back in the saddle.
Hour 1. Gerry is going to Trump's Inauguration. Robert Kraft is still not happy with the NFL.More from this show
Hour 2. Ben Volin joins the show to discuss the Patriots game this weekend.More from this show
Kirk Minihane is joined by his long time nemesis Bart Hubbuch. Kirk and Bart discuss the incident between the two that led to Kirk being let go from Comcast and the long standing issue of deflategate. Bart annoyingly wouldn't get of his speaker phone. This is an explosive interview between two guys who admittedly dislike each other.More from this show