Buchholz stepping up to ace territory

787526.jpg

Buchholz stepping up to ace territory

BOSTON -- Righthander Clay Buchholz was able to accomplish something Monday night a Red Sox starting pitcher had been unable to do in nearly two weeks. Earn a win.

Buchholz went eight innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits, including a home run. He walked two, struck out four and improved to 9-3 while lowering his ERA to 4.75, as the Sox beat the Tigers 7-3 at Fenway Park.

The last Sox starting pitcher to earn a W was Felix Doubront on July 18 against the White Sox.

Since posting wins in four consecutive starts from June 1-19, Buchholz had gone 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his past three starts. The Sox, though, were 2-1 in those three games.
It quickly appeared Buchholz was headed for a similar fate in this game. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Jackson on his second pitch of the game.

It was the fourth time Buchholz has allowed a leadoff home run, and first since April 20, 2011, in Oakland when Coco Crisp opened with a homer. It snapped a string of 26 13 innings for Buchholz without allowing a home run, since the second inning on June 19.

Still, after allowing the next batter, Quintin Berry, to reach on a double off the wall, Buchholz retired the next three to end the inning with no further damage.

He got out of another jam with minimal damage in the third. After Omar Infante led off with a triple, Jackson walked. With one out, Miguel Cabreras single to center scored Infante. A walk to Prince Fielder loaded the bases. But Buchholz got Delmon Young to ground into a double play, ending the inning.

Buchholz third (and unearned) run allowed came in the seventh when Brennan Boesch struck out but reached on catcher Kelly Shoppachs throwing error. With one out, Alex Avilas double to right scored Boesch.

Boesch and Avila were the only Detroit baserunners to reach after the third.

I thought he was spectacular, said manager Bobby Valentine. Leaving the runner on base in the first inning and getting the ground ball double play with the bases loaded, it was cruising from that point on. He got his ball down, threw great off-speed stuff, really good changeup, curveball, cutter and gave us eight great innings.

Buchholzs outing was not what he experienced in his bullpen warm-up.

In the bullpen I was up in the zone, he said. Im not saying that you take your bullpen into the game but the release point was a little off and balls were up. With a team like this when you leave balls middle of the plate, you get hit pretty hard. So that was that and then I was able to miss the barrel. They're a team that everyone knows they're aggressive. Theyre a fastball hitting team and they had a couple of guys in there that can hit strike off-speed stuff too pretty well. So, its a more mix-and-match game and I was able to miss the fat part of the bat for the most part.

Limiting the damage in the first inning something Sox pitchers have had difficulty with this season was a key.

The next guy hits a double and more times than not the runner scores from second, too, Buchholz said. So I was just trying to find a way to keep him at second base or third base and not let him get across the plate. It was a pitch-by-pitch deal where me and Shop had a pretty good flow going, too. And there wasnt a whole lot of shaking off tonight so I think that had a lot to do with it.

Buchholz has become the Sox most reliable starter. In his last nine starts since May 27, he is 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA, giving up 18 earned runs in 66 13 innings. In his last eight starts since June 1, the Sox are 7-1. He has allowed just four earned runs over his last three starts since July 19, spanning 23 innings, for a 1.57 ERA.

I feel good, he said. Its just I have a little bit of confidence and going out and throwing well just builds confidence and adds to what you already had so it definitely feels good. I feel like theres always something you could work on to change and get better at and I think thats going to be every start. Theres going to be something that you could do better but everything feels in sync right now. Thats the working part of it. Youve got to find a way four days in between to keep yourself where youre at and not lose anything.

Where hes at now is different than where he was early in the season, perhaps still dealing with the effect of the stress fracture in his lower back that ended last season for him after just 14 starts. After his first eight starts this season, Buchholz was 4-2 with a 7.77 ERA, with the Sox were 4-4 in those games.

Yeah, the stuffs the same. I feel like the stuff Im throwing is the same, he said. For the most part Im off middle of the plate a little more and ground balls that are getting hit right at guys just werent hit at them early in the year. They were just out of their reach and two runs would score on a ground ball like that. So a little bit of luck involved and the confidence part of it, being able to throw a pitch with conviction rather than second-guessing it.

And getting wins.

First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

boston-red-sox-hanley-ramirez-083116.jpg

First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park:

*The Red Sox got some much-needed contributions from the bottom of the order.

Aaron Hill was 0-for-20 when he came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but slapped a tie-breaking single to right to put the Red Sox ahead to stay.

Batting ninth was Jackie Bradley Jr. who was 3-for-17 when he singled in the fifth, homered in the sixth and doubled home a run in the ninth, right after Hill's heroics.

The Sox have been carried offensively by the top four or five in their lineup, but that's a tough way to win.

At some point, others in the batting order have to contribute. The timing couldn't have been better than for that to start on Wednesday afternoon.

* Why was Junichi Tazawa throwing fastballs ahead 0-and-2?

Tazawa entered with the bases loaded and Logan Forsythe due. After two quick strikes, Tazawa kept throwing fastballs to Forsythe, who took the second one and lined it back up the middle for a two-run single.

Tazawa's best pitch is his split-finger, and it seemed like that would have been the more prudent choice there -- to get Forsythe to chase a pitch out of the zone.

It's doubtful that there were concerns about a split bouncing in the dirt and getting away from catcher Sandy Leon.

Strange.

*Hustle counts.

The Rays lost out on a run in the third inning and it changed the game.

 With two outs, the Rays had Tim Beckham at second and Logan Forsythe at first when Kevin Kiermaier stroked a line drive to the gap in right-center.

Beckham jogged toward the plate, but at the same time, Kiermaier attempted to stretch a single into a double. His throw arrived in time for a tag to be placed on him as he slid into second.

Worse, from the Rays' standpoint, Beckham hadn't crossed the plate before the tag was applied at second, so what should have been an automatic run was not a run at all for Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

 

Sounds like Moncada will join Red Sox on Thursday

Sounds like Moncada will join Red Sox on Thursday

BOSTON - Without saying so directly, John Farrell broadly hinted that the Red Sox appear ready to call up Yoan Moncada as rosters expand from the current 25-man limit Thursday.

Farrell first noted that the Red Sox "need better production'' at third base, where both Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill have struggled mightily at the position.

Moncada, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third base earlier this month at Double A Portland. Moncada has a slash line of .285/.388/.547 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 44 games.

Asked specifically about the chances of a call-up for Moncada, Farrell said: "We've talked about Yoan. And not just as a pinch-runner. It's an exciting young player, an extremely talented guy. There's all positive reviews and evaluations of him.

"When that major league experience is going to initiate, time will tell that. But in terms of playing the position of third base [in the big leagues], that conversation has been had.''

Previously, the Red Sox had resisted bringing Moncada to the big leagues, worried that he wouldn't be in the lineup often enough to continue his development. The Sox didn't want him to miss out on additional experience in the minors by playing only part-time in the majors.

But now that the minor league seasons are about to end -- Portland finishes Labor Day -- there's nothing in the minors for Moncada to miss.

"This is a different scenario than if it were July or early August,'' said Farrell. "The minor league season ends [soon], so is there benefit to him just being here? The answer to that is yes. Do you weigh playing 'X' number of games per week versus what he could be doing at Portland or Pawtucket? Well, that goes away [with the minor league regular seasons end].

"So, again, by all accounts, there's nothing but positives that could come out of experience here -- if that were to happen.''

 Moncada's promotion would be similar to the one experience by Xander Bogaerts in 2013, who was brought up in the final week of August 2013 and remained with the club all the way through the end of the team's World Series run that fall, taking playing time from struggling third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

 "For those who have been around this team for a number of years,'' said Farrell, "teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team through the postseason. I think Yoan would be in a similar category to when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], when Jake [Jacoby Ellsbury] came into the picture. And Andrew (Benintendi) is already here, so I wouldn't separate [Moncada] out from that at all.

"In fact, he's a direct comparison [to those cases].’’

Farrell agreed that the arrival of a young, highly-touted player can inject some energy into a team in the throes of a pennant race.

"Absolutely, there is,'' said Farrell. "You've got a newness element. You've got, likely, above-average speed. You've got athleticism. You've got the unknown across the field on how does a given [opposing] team attack a given guy.

"In the cases we've talked about, it has been beneficial to us for the young player to come up. They find a way to contribute in a meaningful role. 

Without saying that [Moncada's promotion] is a definite, there's a lot [of positives]going for it.''

Farrell also acknowledged that the Sox have already held internal discussions about how Moncada would be utilized, given that the switch-hitter has been far more productive from the left side of the plate.

"We've talked about what's strong side, how do you look to best ease him in, so to speak,'' said Farrell. "We thought that with Benintendi, how do we best ease him in. Well, he blew the doors off of that one [with his early success]. So, if it happens, and if begins here soon, you'll all be aware.''

Farrell said the reports of Moncada's transition to third base have been encouraging despite three errors in his first nine games there.

"He's shown good range, an above-average arm,'' said Farrell. "Where there will be ongoing work and continued development, just as there was at second base, is the ball hit straight at him. That's just pure technique and fundamental positioning with hands and feet.

"But as far as range to his glove side, moving to third base, that seemingly has not been that big of a challenge for him.''

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Wright, Sox try to salvage 3-3 homestand

red_sox_steven_wright_072116jpg.jpg

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Wright, Sox try to salvage 3-3 homestand

The Red Sox try to end their short homestand at 3-3 and take two of three from the last-place Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale this afternoon at Fenway Park.

Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18 ERA), who allowed five first-inning runs to the Kansas Royals in his last start - his first since coming off the disabled list - is on the mound for the Red Sox. Left-hander Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80) starts for the Rays.

The Red Sox begin a nine-game road trip to Oakland, San Diego and Toronto on Friday night. 

The lineups:

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier 2B

Evan Longoria 3B

Brad Miller DH

Nick Franklin RF

Logan Morrison 1B

Tim Beckham SS

Corey Dickerson LF

Bobby Wilson C

Drew Smyly LHP

 

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Sandy Leon C

Chris Young LF

Aaron Hill 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF