ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:
1) If this was the last start for Clay Buchholz, it was a good one.
Buchholz was brilliant in 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out a season high nine hitters.
After contributing little in the first four months of the season, Buchholz has helped out in a big way in the last four weeks -- first out of the bullpen and more recently, in three spot starts.
He's made sone adjustments with his release point, giving him far better command within the strike zone, and unsurprisingly, far better results.
Now, the question is: how will be used going forward?
2) Monday night, Andrew Benintendi thwarted the Rays in the late inning. On Tuesday, it was Mookie Betts's turn.
Benintendi's catch to rob Steve Souza Jr. of a two-run homer in the eighth was the highlight seen 'round the world. But it's possible that a throw from Betts was, in its own way, just as important.
Like Benintendi's magic trick Monday, this one took place with one out in the eighth inning. Brad Ziegler retired the leadoff hitter before Kevin Kiermaier chopped a ball into the right field corner. Betts chased down the ball as Kiermaier rounded second and headed to third.
The throw from Betts, from the right field corner, was a strike as Travis Shaw slapped a tag on the runner.
Forget, for a minute, the wisdom of someone already in scoring position attempting to take an extra base while trailing by a run and instead focus on the magic turned in by the Red Sox outfield in successive nights.
3) Robbie Ross Jr. has become a significant part of the bullpen.
Ross took over for Buchholz in the seventh, with lefty Corey Dickerson and righthanded-hitting Bobby Wilson due.
Ross overpowered Dickerson and got him swinging at a third strike before retiring Wilson on a routine bouncer to third.
It marked the fourth straight scoreless appearance by Ross in relief and ninth straight on the road.
Ross probably doesn't have the pure stuff to become the main option in the eighth inning. But he has had enough success to be someone that John Farrell trusts in some high leverage situations and matchups.