Buchholz delivers dominant performance

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Buchholz delivers dominant performance

CLEVELAND Clay Buchholz wasnt about to hold himself up as some kind of stopper on the Red Sox staff.

He wanted to make sure everybody knows that each member of Bostons underperforming rotation is giving it their all every time out on the pitchers mound.

But results are what matter most in professional sports, and theyve all been in Buchholzs corner over the last few months while he continually pulls his team out of the losing doldrums.

It is what it is. Everybody wants to go out there and win every night. Unfortunately you cant always do that, and thats why this game is hard, said Buchholz, who improved to 10-3 on the season with a 4.24 ERA. It makes you focus a little more making good pitches, and not missing over the middle of the plate. That kind of focus is where you want to stay.

The lithe righty did it again on Friday night when he twirled a two-hit, complete game against the Cleveland Indians in a 3-2 win at Progressive Field. Buchholz improved to 9-2 in games following Red Sox losses over the last two years, and hes essentially become the teams ace while reputation guys named Beckett and Lester have faltered before him.

One area Beckett did help with Buchholz: showing him a split-fingered changeup grip last month. Since he incorporated that pitch with his standard changeup grip hes gone at least seven innings while allowing two runs or less in each of his last five starts.

It was probably about five starts ago that I started mixing that split change in when before Id only been using it when the straight change wasnt working. Now Im throwing both and getting some good defense behind me, said Buchholz. I felt good and I was able to throw the cutter where I wanted to. The changeup was down all night. Everything is working and rolling right now for me. Hopefully this sparks us and gets us going.

Above and beyond it all he improved to 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last 11 starts dating back to May 27, and has the lowest ERA in the American League over that time period.
Its hard to believe Buchholz has turned it around so completely after struggling dreadfully through April and May when some were even unbelievably calling for him to go down to Pawtucket.

But his manager was one of his stanch supporters.

I believed in him, said Valentine. There were some Doubting Thomass out there, but I wanted to stick with him. He was throwing without a changeup earlier in the season, and then he and Josh worked on that split-fingered changeup in the bullpen right before one of his starts. Hes been using it ever since.

That unyielding dedication paid off on Friday when he dominated Cleveland with his cut fastball and two different changeups with a two-seam fastball mixed in liberally.

Buchholz gave up a home run and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in his first two at bats, and didnt surrender a single hit to anybody else in an Indians uniform.

That was just what the doctor ordered. He was terrific, said Valentine. It was excellent. Sixty-something pitches after six innings and I thought he was in control all the way. He pitched great. There was no real strong contact aside from Asdrubal Cabrera.

He was using all his pitches. He was keeping the ball down in the zone. He was working both sides of the plate. They had all those left-handers in there and you saw him working the inside part of the plate.

In order for the Sox to get back into the playoff picture theyll need more from the rest of Buchholzs partners in the starting rotation. But they wouldnt even be in the conversation right now if Buchholz wasnt going through one of those unhittable stretches hes become known for in his sometimes-brilliant career with the Sox.

Its time for the rest of the Sox rotation to start playing catch-up to Clay.

Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

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Report: White Sox scouting Red Sox' minor league affiliates for possible trade

Though the chances are slim the Red Sox and White Sox make a blockbuster trade before the MLB trade deadline, Chicago is at least sending resources to Boston's minor league affiliates to scout their prospects.

ESPN Boston's Scott Lauber first reported Friday the White Sox were scouting Double-A Portland (home of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi), but Ken Rosenthal adds they were also at their Single-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Though one would assume the Red Sox are seeking prospects for a potential return on Chris Sale, Rosenthal thinks it could be "for reasons other than Sale" and that some believe the White Sox are "simply laying groundwork for off-season trade."

Stay tuned for more.

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

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Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels:

QUOTES

* “He just had very good command the entire night. Stayed ahead in the count [and] pitched to all quadrants of the strike zone. He used his four-seamer in on some powerful right-handed hitters in their lineup.” John Farrell on Rick Porcello’s performance.

* “We needed a win bad and swung the bats well and played good defense. That’s a big win for us.” Rick Porcello said after his win in an interview with NESN.

* “24 hours ago we were probably in a much different place mentally after a ball game like tonight.” Farrell on the win.

“That was probably the first time I sat on off-speed pitches this whole year. I took a chance, took a gamble.” Jackie Bradley Jr. said on his home run.

NOTES

* Rick Porcello completed his first game in a Red Sox uniform in the 6-2 win. The CG was the fifth of his career and his first since he threw three in 2014. The righty has 14 wins, one win shy of tying his career high.

* Xander Bogaerts had his first multi extra-base hit performance of the season since June 11. He’s only done that twice this season. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

* David Ortiz logged his 85th RBI of the season in the win and Mookie Betts his 67th. Heading into Friday night’s game, the two were one of five pairs of teammates ranking in the top 20 in RBI. The list includes Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

* Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 32 straight games.

STARS

1) Rick Porcello

Porcello had his first complete game in a Red Sox uniform, stopping Boston’s losing skid at four games.

2) Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts finished with a double and a home run -- the only Boston hitter with multiple hits. He also led the Red Sox with three RBI and scoring twice in the win.

3) Dustin Pedroia

In addition to walking in his first two at-bats, Pedroia had a base hit -- and another walk -- scoring twice on the night.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 win over Los Angeles:

Rick Porcello is not fazed by his fellow staff members’ struggles.

Although his teammates continue to deal with frustrations on almost a nightly basis, Porcello got the job done and put Boston in a position to win once again.

The second-inning double by Daniel Nava should have been a single, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not misplayed a funny hop. If that hit is a single, the next ground ball is a double -- and the following grounder ends the inning.

One of the most impressive components of his outing was dealing with Cole Kalhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to finish his outing after already facing them three times on the night.

Xander Bogaerts had his first multi-hit game in a week.

Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a long time -- but that can feel like a long time given the shortstop’s output this year.

It was also his first multi extra-base hit performance since June 11.

Oddly enough, those are his only two games of that kind this season.

In addition to the win, Porcello did the bullpen a favor.

Not necessarily because the relievers needed rest, but with Ziegler’s last two rough nights, they could use a break.

Although Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz got warm late, it was more so to keep them fresh for the coming games since they haven’t thrown much.

Additionally, he gave an example for the Red Sox starting rotation that they are in fact capable of going the distance.

Tim Lincecum is barely a shell of what he used to be.

That first inning was hard to watch. The former Cy Young Award-winner threw eight straight balls, and somehow managed to work past. Even his final throw to first base in he opening frame looked like it was going off the mark.

Just hard to watch in general, which made it all the more shocking that the Red Sox couldn’t score against him.

Good for them that he never adjusted, and they took advantage of it in the ensuing innings.