Buchholz shelled by homers


Buchholz shelled by homers

BOSTON Perhaps it was the pregame hoopla, or pitching in front of so many former Red Sox players. Or maybe it was the Yankees lineup, which entered the game hitting .276, second in the American League, third in home runs. Or maybe as manager Bobby Valentine said, Clay Buchholz is still building after spending most of last season on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Whatever the reason, it was clear almost from his first pitch a fastball that was up in the zone - that Buchholz was going to struggle Friday afternoon. Buchholz went six innings (plus one batter in the seventh), giving up six runs, five earned, on nine this and two walks with two strikeouts. He suffered his first loss of the season, dropping his record to 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA, as the Sox fell to the Yankees, 6-2, on Fenway Parks 100th anniversary.

He left some balls over the plate. Obviously they got hit, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The wind 19 mph out to center at the start of the game was blowing good. So nothing to take away from those guys but he made some pitches. It was just one of those days.

For Buchholz, it was one of those days hed like a mulligan.

Five of the hits he allowed were solo home runs. The home runs allowed matched a career high (to the Blue Jays on Sept. 29, 2009) and also matched Josh Becketts April 7 outing in Detroit for most homers allowed by a Sox pitcher this season.

Nick Swisher led off the second inning with a home run to left-center. Two batters later, with one out, Eric Chavez hit another, and led off the fourth with his second home run of the game. Alex Rodriquez led off the fifth with a first-pitch home run over the Monster. And Russell Martin hit the Yankees fifth homer of the game with two outs in the sixth.

Buchholz seemed to struggle with all his pitches.

Too many pitches left up in the zone, said one scout in attendance. He had trouble getting over his front side. He left changeups and cutters up and out over the plate. His curveballs were just rolling.

All the home runs except Rodriguezs came in two-strike counts. Two of the home runs Swishers and Martins were on fastballs, Chavezs were on a changeup and a cutter, and Rodriguezs was also on a cutter.

Against a lot of the hitters he was a very competitive and then those home runs out of the windup, no one on, it seemed, they were perplexing, Valentine said. He had a good curveball. His fastball was located down nicely a lot of the time but at least four of the times fastball wasnt located properly. Hes still building. This is a guy who, he didnt pitch all last year and hes still getting his feet underneath him.

I think itll come quickly. It seems its only eight inches or so that he needs to get the ball down a little better but I havent seen it on film and I didnt talk to catcher or pitching coaches about what they were seeing.

Buchholz extended a dubious streak, giving up four or more runs in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He also ended his career-high 11-game undefeated streak.

Buchholz, though, said he feels 100 percent healthy and does not believe his issues were mechanical.

Its really simple, he said. I made five mistakes today and they hit them.

Anybody can say that any pitch is the wrong pitch to throw if they hit it, but I believe that a couple of changeups that they hit, a couple of cutters they hit and a couple of curveballs, if they werent middle or werent thigh-high they might have still hit them but it might not have been a homer. I think Salty did a good job of calling the pitches. I have to get out there and execute.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back


Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.