Future Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz pitched scoreless baseball through his first four innings this afternoon, and then allowed three runs and four hits in the fifth inning before being lifted for Javier Lopez. The Sox and Devil Rays ended spring training with a 3-3 tie. The Sox now play two exhibition games up north against the Phillies and then open the season with a three-game series in Kansas City, starting on Monday. It was an encouraging appearance today for Boston’s top pitching prospect. Even more promising is the continued performance of the Sox bullpen.
Lopez, who will be part the Sox bullpen until Mike Timlin returns, added another 1.1 scoreless innings to his spring training stat file. Hideki Okajima, Barry Hertzler (another Sox minor league relief pitching prospect) and Jonathan Papelbon each added a scoreless frame.
Yankees fans and naysayers who believe that the Sox bullpen is not deep and talented will be sorely disappointed when the regular season begins. There are no holes in the pen now that Papelbon has returned to the closer’s role. The Sox have one of baseball’s best starting rotations. The bullpen will be more than adequate enough to preserve leads.