Atchison proving reliable with outstanding play

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Atchison proving reliable with outstanding play

Thanks to injury (Andrew Bailey) and early-season ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon), the Red Sox bullpen has been a work in progress almost from Opening Day.

When the season began, Scott Atchison was viewed a middle- or long-reliever, capable of giving the Red Sox multiple innings at a time.

"When I was putting the bullpen together," said Bobby Valentine, "the one thing I knew was that he had some length in him, that he was able to throw 45 pitches and give up a couple, three innings and I didn't really have that in anyone else. So at the beginning, that was what he was doing and when he was pitching his two-plus innings, he was getting everyone out."

Almost one-third of the way into the season, however, Atchison has been given a role of more prominence. Instead of coming into the game in the fourth or fifth inning when the Sox are trailing, he's earned the confidence of Valentine and is now viewed as more of a trusted set-up man.

"He obviously now had elevated himself," said Valentine, "to where he's a righthander I can count on to get righthanders and lefthanders out."

Case in point: on Monday, Atchison came in for the seventh, with the Sox leading by four and contributed two scoreless innings while racking up four strikeouts.

Atchison is unscored upon in his last dozen outings, covering 17 13 innings and his ERA has dipped to minuscule 0.93.

"It's been good," said Atchison of his recent run. "I'm trying not really think about what I'm doing. I'm just going out there and keeping the same approach and throwing strikes. It's been a good stretch and hopefully I'll keep it going."

Atchison isn't concerned about his role or when or how long he pitches. To him, the mission is the same.

"I feel like I can do any of those things, pitch in (different) roles," he said. "I feel like that's how they're using me -- if some righties are coming up, they bring me in. If it's the long situation, I'm the guy who's stretch out, too, so I can go out and do that. I'm just kind of ready for whatever situation. When they call, if he says me, I get ready to go."

Atchison's success has dovetailed with the improved work of the bullpen in general and the relievers have found that good outings can be contagious.

"We're doing great," said Atchison. "Everybody's throwing the ball really well. You're going to give up runs here and there. But if you hand us the lead, I feel like we're doing good; if we're behind, I feel like everybody's throwing the ball well and keeping us in the game.

"We've bonded as a group down there and everybody's comfortable that, when phone rings, if it's their turn, they're going to go out and do their job. And if they don't somebody's going to pick them up. That's kind of been our motto."

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

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Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

The Red Sox face a left-hander -- Carlos Rondon, in this case -- for the second night in a row as they play the middle game of their three-night series in Chicago against the White Sox.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
---
Clay Buchholz P

WHITE SOX:
Adam Eaton RF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Jose Abreu 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Jerry Sands DH
Dioner Navarro C
Austin Jackson CF
---
Carlos Rondon P

Jeter: Sox fans 'softer' and 'treat me better' after winning three titles

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Jeter: Sox fans 'softer' and 'treat me better' after winning three titles

There was a time not too long ago when the New York Yankees would fear for their lives when they came into Boston.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that serious.

But go back to the early 2000s and the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees was about as heated as could be.

On one side was the Evil Empire: George Steinbrenner, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens,etc. On the other was the Red Sox: Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, etc.

Those were the days.

Then the Red Sox came back from three games down in the 2004 ALCS, beat the Yankees, and went on to win the World Series. Then they won the World Series again in 2007. And again in 2013.

All that winning changed the narrative around here. The frustration and anger of  years of disappointment was replaced by joy.

Welcome to Friendly Fenway.

Suddenly, players like Jeter could come to town and even go out to dinner without being heckled by diehard Sox fans.

On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jeter told Meyers -- a Red Sox fan -- about how Sox fans have gone soft since their team started winning.
    
“It doesn’t happen anymore,” he said about being heckled outside Fenway. “I can say this now because I’m retired. Boston fans have softened up since you guys have won. It pains me to say it, but . . . I won’t say it. I’m not happy you won. But you treat me a lot better since you won.”

Time for Red Sox to clear away Clay

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Time for Red Sox to clear away Clay

In our Early Edition production meeting, someone said Clay Buchholz was pitching for his job tonight.

Sorry, not anymore.

As soon as Steven Wright pitched well for the fifth straight time last night, Buchholz's train left the station. It’s time to do with Clay what the Sox did to Panda: Make up an injury, fake a surgery (okay, that’s all a bit of an overstatement with Sandoval) and get him out of the way.

As soon as the White Sox said goodbye to John Danks, we all said the same thing: If Chicago can do it, why can’t Boston? Danks was to start tonight against Buchholz, but the Chisox said "No more" and paid off the final year of his $65 million contract. The Bosox -- haven’t heard that term in a while, have you? -- could do the same with Clay and the $13 million he's owed for this season, plus a $500,000 buyout at the end of the year. 

David Price is the No. 1 starter and eventually he'll be fine. Eduardo Rodriquez gave up three runs in six innings last night for Pawtucket and will soon be ready to take his spot in the No. 2 slot. Then there's my pick to click, Rick Porcello (with a 2.76 ERA), and the previously mentioned Wright with his 1.76 ERA. Wright was supposed to be the odd man out when E-Rod returned, but that’s not happening. So there are your top four starters. And what about Joe Kelly when he comes back? I would rather see Kelly and anyone from Pawtucket pitch in the fifth spot instead of Buchholz and his 6.51 ERA.

Is there any reason to keep Buchholz?  Not that I can see. Clay can throw his second career no-hitter tonight and my feelings won't change.

It’s time to move on from Clay Buchholz.