Dustin Pedroia returned tonight after 7 weeks of injury to a standing ovation. It was even his birthday.
Ryan Kalish, a yet to be determined level of studly rookie hit a grand slam to break the game open.
But to be honest, none of that matters, because Clay Buchholz has been that good this year.
After going 7 dominate innings against a Halos team that simply can't score against the Sox, Buchholz has absolutely cemented himself in the Cy Young award talk.
Joe Murph and I had this conversation after his last start, we were concerned that he wouldn't have enough time to pile on some wins, and we agreed that he remains under the radar and won't get the "sexy votes" that David Price may (ITM note, how is that possible given the Boston/Tampa market differences?).
Tonight's game however, in my mind, put him square in the mix. At 14-5, a ridiculous league leading ERA of 2.36, a WHIP of 1.1, and the title of being the most consistent and valuable pitcher in the AL, how can this guy not get a ton of votes?
Also, have you ever seen a pitcher make adjustments as quickly and as well as Buchholz? Most prospects get lit up a bit, and it takes a few years to make adjustments before they reach this level of success, but Buchholz has essentially done it in one year.
He's matured to the point where he realizes he doesn't need to strike everyone out, in fact, he's among the league leaders in ground outs, which helps to keep his pitch count down.
Going into the season, if you would have told us a Red Sox pitcher was in the Cy Young discussion, many would have assumed Lester, maybe Beckett, possibly Lackey, but probably not Buchholz. See how much this guy has poured?
Imagine if Theo dealt this guy? (ITM note, at one point or another, all of us were ready to show him the door for a bat, admit it).
Now if we could ever get the Rays and Yanks to lose on the same nights as the Sox win, we'd be on to something.
Playoffs or not, Buchholz needs to be on the ultra short list for Cy Young consideration. Mark it zero, next frame.