Buehrle brings out his best in Blue Jays' win
Lind's late homer sets up Sunday's rubber game at Fenway
By Gregor Chisholm / 5/11/2013 7:30 PM ET
BOSTON -- Mark Buehrle has spent most of this season being bailed out by the Blue Jays' offense and, whenever it happened, he vowed there would come a time when the favor would be repaid.
That day finally came on Saturday afternoon, as Buehrle allowed just one run over seven-plus innings of work in what can easily be described as his best start of the season.
A lack of run support almost did the Blue Jays in, but Adam Lind came through with a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning, while Buehrle carried a shutout into the eighth inning of a 3-2 victory over Boston.
"I think the three differences today were: First-pitch strikes, [I] got ahead in the count; [I also] kept the ball down. To be honest, the third one was luck," Buehrle said.
"It was one of those days that I had the majority of my pitches working, movement down in the zone. But the times I did miss, they didn't make me pay for it. I think a big part of this game is luck, and I had that on my side today."
Buehrle entered play on Saturday having gone through one of the worst stretches of his career. His ERA sat at an ugly 7.02, while he also had allowed 2.41 homers per nine innings -- which was the highest total in the American League.
During Buehrle's past three outings alone, he had surrendered eight homers. But he managed to rectify that problem at Fenway Park. Buehrle allowed just five hits and two walks, while striking out five, before departing the game with a 2-0 lead.
Buehrle retired 13 consecutive batters from the third until he issued a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth. That run eventually came around to score, as left-hander Darren Oliver entered and promptly surrendered an RBI triple to Jacoby Ellsbury, who would later score on an error by shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.
That stole the win from Buehrle, but wasn't enough to spoil the outing. It marked just the third time this season he didn't allow at least five runs and also just the third time he didn't surrender a homer.
"I was making pitches, keeping them down in the zone, getting ahead in the count -- and I think that was the biggest thing," said Buehrle, who took the no-decision. "Strike one to a lot of guys, previously I was ball one -- and then you're kind of behind in the count and you have to come to them.
"I was making good pitches, [my] sinker was moving, changeup for the most part was good. I was in a pretty good groove where the confidence was, 'I'm going to throw this pitch and you're not going to hit it. I'm going to throw it wherever I want to and hope for the best.'"
The outing was almost wasted until Lind came to the rescue in the top of the ninth inning with a leadoff homer to straightaway center field. Lind's second homer of the season came on a 2-2 pitch from Junichi Tazawa and helped snap the Blue Jays' three-game losing streak.
Lind continues to see his overall numbers improve, despite sporadic playing time because of his platoon situation and not starting against left-handed pitching. Toronto's designated hitter/first baseman is now hitting .368 (14-for-38) with a .529 on-base percentage over his past 15 games.
Toronto continues to swing the bats well against Tazawa. Boston's reliable setup man has allowed just three homers this year -- but all of them have come against the Blue Jays.
"It was a slider, but I left it up a little bit and I wanted to get it a little bit more inside. But it caught too much of the plate," Tazawa said.
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz was strong again, but the Blue Jays were able to make the most out of their limited opportunities. Colby Rasmus drew a leadoff walk in the third inning and would later come around to score after a sacrifice bunt and then a bloop RBI single by Melky Cabrera.
The Blue Jays pieced together another run in the fourth during a rally that was started by a leadoff single by Lind. Lind advanced to second on a weak grounder to third and then was brought home on a sharp single to right by Rasmus.
With the victory, Toronto improved to 3-3 on its current road trip. The club now has an opportunity to win just its second series of the season when the three-game set in Boston comes to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon.
Most of the credit for that can be shared between Buehrle and Lind.
"It's awesome. Where else would you rather do it than here on a day game in front of a packed house at Fenway," Lind said. "[Buehrle] probably thrives on situations like that. He's used to playing in Chicago and Detroit, big rivalry games, and this was a rivalry game for us."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.