A season-high five-game losing streak is not the way the Boston Red Sox wanted to enter September. Thanks to a historic performance by a rookie, the final month of the regular season instead got off to a very good start.
The Red Sox will try to ride the momentum of the franchise’s first no-hitter in more than five years Sunday afternoon when they close a three-game series against the sputtering Baltimore Orioles.
Clay Buchholz made his second major league start a memorable one Saturday night as he became the first Red Sox rookie to throw a no-hitter in a 10-0 victory.
It was the third no-hitter of the season, and the first by a Red Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe against Tampa Bay on April 27, 2002. Buchholz, who turned 23 on Aug. 14, became the 17th rookie to throw a no-hitter, joining Florida’s Anibal Sanchez against Arizona last Sept. 6.
Buchholz only drew the start because the Red Sox were forced to shuffle their rotation after Tim Wakefield was scratched from Friday’s game with a sore back.
“Now that I’m here, I feel like nothing can go wrong,” Buchholz said. “I’ll try to keep an even keel and remember it’s not that easy all the time.”
Overshadowed by Buchholz’s accomplishment was that Boston (81-55) averted its first five-game skid since last season and remained five games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East.
The Orioles (59-75) were no-hit for the first time since April 4, 2001, by Hideo Nomo, also of the Red Sox.
“Early in the game, we were trying to win,” Miguel Tejada said. “But after they got the big lead, we were trying to break up the no-hitter.”
Baltimore has lost 10 of its last 11 games, posting a 9.71 ERA and a .253 team batting average during that span.
Jon Lester (2-0, 5.67 ERA) has the unenviable task of following Buchholz in the rotation. This will be the first start for the left-hander since Aug. 21, and his second appearance at Fenway Park this season. After making six starts for Boston, Lester was optioned to Double-A Portland on Aug. 23, two days after he allowed five runs, four hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings in an 8-6 victory over Tampa Bay.
Lester was outstanding in his only home start this season, limiting the Devil Rays to one run and two hits in seven innings on Aug. 14. He did not receive a decision as the Red Sox scored twice in the ninth inning for a 2-1 win.
Lester won his only start against the Orioles 11-9 on Aug. 13, 2006, giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Daniel Cabrera (9-13, 5.08) looks to end a personal five-game losing streak against the Red Sox. The right-hander is 1-7 with an 8.39 ERA in nine career starts against Boston, including 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA in three outings at Fenway Park. In his last five starts versus the Red Sox, Cabrera has allowed 24 runs - 21 earned - and 27 hits in 23 innings while walking 23 and striking out 24.
Cabrera, who has won two straight road starts, gave up three runs and five hits in six innings Tuesday in Baltimore’s 15-8 loss to Tampa Bay at Camden Yards.
Reserve infielder Alex Cora should be happy to see Cabrera. He is 11-for-18 (.611) with one homer against the right-hander.