TORONTO — Clay Buchholz pitched brilliantly again for the Red Sox on Wednesday night, throwing seven shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 10-1 victory.
Buchholz is 6-0 with a 1.01 earned run average. It’s the best start for a Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens had an 0.73 ERA after six starts in 1991. All Clemens did that season was win the Cy Young Award.
Buchholz stood in front of his locker after the game and answered questions from a group of reporters about his performance. As the session broke up, Buchholz laughed.
“You know what’s really good about this year?” he asked. “Not having to pitch to Mike Napoli any more.”
On a night when Buchholz was dominant, Napoli’s two mammoth home runs were the talk of the clubhouse.
The first was a solo shot in the fourth inning off Mark Buehrle that landed in a standing room area in straightaway center field. ESPN’s Home Run Tracker estimated it at 472 feet.
The Blue Jays intentionally walked David Ortiz to get to Napoli with two runners on in the seventh inning. Righthander Esmil Rogers fell behind, 3 and 0.
Napoli looked over to third base coach Brian Butterfield, who relayed a signal from manager John Farrell that he was clear to swing at the next pitch.
“I like doing it. You’re mostly going to get a fastball you can try to drive,” Napoli said.
Rogers threw a 95-mile-per-hour fastball over the plate and a little high. Napoli hit the ball into the third deck in left-center field, the ball coming to rest in the front row of a section of club seats.
The crowd of 21,094 actually applauded, they were so impressed with the feat.
“There aren’t many human beings who can hit a fastball to center field that far,” Jonny Gomes said. “I think I saw [former Jays slugger] Carlos Delgado do it once.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen one up in that area at Rogers Centre,” said NESN’s Jerry Remy, who has been calling Red Sox games for 26 years.
ESPN had it at 467 feet, which all of the Red Sox scoffed at. “The second one was longer,” Will Middlebrooks said.
Napoli thought the second one was longer, too. Not that he cared.
“It wouldn’t matter to me if it goes just over the fence,” he said. “It’s just the same thing.”
Napoli had struck out all four times he came up on Tuesday.
“How did you bounce back?” a radio reporter asked him.
“Obviously pretty good,” Napoli said, drawing laughs. “I go day by day. I’m able to let things go. I had a rough night but today was a new day. I hit them pretty good”
It was the 11th time Napoli has hit two home runs in a game. He has five on the season to go with 31 RBIs in 27 games.
Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, and Daniel Nava also homered for the Red Sox, who had 15 hits in all. The Sox are 19-8, the best record in baseball, and have won seven of nine.
The Red Sox have hit 16 home runs in five games at the Rogers Centre. They have 15 in their other 22 games.
“I wanted to get up and take a swing,” said Shane Victorino, who was out of the lineup with a back injury.
Farrell, who managed the Blue Jays for two seasons, noted that the ball travels well in the ballpark when the retractable roof is closed and the temperature gets warmer.
“The ball definitely flies,” Farrell said. “We’ve got guys that obviously can hit some good fly balls that carry here. This is a very good hitters’ ballpark and we were able to put some good swings on some pitches.”
Buehrle (1-2) pitched into the seventh inning, giving up five runs on seven hits. He is 0-3 in his last three starts against the Sox, giving up 13 earned runs over 18⅔ innings.
Drew (3 for 5) had a two-run homer in the second inning. Napoli and Nava went back-to-back in the fourth. The Sox scored four times in the seventh and then Carp had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning.
Napoli, who is hitting .287, doubled in the ninth and scored on Nava’s single.
David Ortiz didn’t homer, remarkably enough. But his opposite-field double in the sixth inning extended his hit streak to 22 games going back to last season.
Buchholz is 7-2 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 career starts at the Rogers Centre.
The Jays advanced only one runner into scoring position against him and that wasn’t until the seventh inning. The mound here, is his favorite in the league.
Since last June 1, Buchholz is 13-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 25 starts. The righthander is realizing what has always been vast potential.
“It’s confidence,” he said. “It’s being able to throw what your catcher puts down and know it’s the right pitch. That’s really all it is, a comfortable feeling.”
That’s a universal emotion for the first-place Red Sox.
“It’s a lot of fun to play in this lineup right now,” said Nava, who hit seven home runs in his first two seasons and has five this year. “There’s good tempo. All cogs are locked in and everything is working the right way.”