Buchholz still working out the kinks on the mound

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Buchholz still working out the kinks on the mound

MINNEAPOLIS -- Clay Buchholz, who has a 9.00 ERA after three starts, has been working on fine-tuning things on the side, hopeful that he can do a better job at keeping the ball down in the strike zone than he has in his first few outings.

"It's a work in progress," said Buchholz. "It's all release-point related. Once you find the release point, I think the changeup will come into effect. That's been up, too. When my four-seamer and two-seamer is down, usually my changeup's down because it's basically the same pitch with a little different grip.

"Once I get to that point and throw some good pitches and get out of the couple of innings without giving up any runs, I think it will (come around)."

Indeed, Buchholz has struggled in the early going of all three starts this season. He gave up four runs in the first and another in the second in his first outing, April 8 in Detroit.

In his next start, against Tampa Bay on April 14, he was again tagged for four runs in the first and another run in the third. Finally, last Friday against the Yankees, he was nicked for a run in the first and two more in the third.

Buchholz had a side session with pitching coach Bob McClure Monday and was satisfied with the progress made.

A particular focus was working on his changeup, which he's had difficulty finding a feel for.

"My changeup's always been a pitch that I've been able to throw 2-and-0, 3-and-0, 3-and-1," said Buchholz. "I don't have that confidence in it right now to go out and throw it like I have in the past. That's what I've been working on the last few weeks."

"I thought he had a great bullpen yesterday," said manager Bobby Valentine. "In his last game, obviously he centered a lot of balls but he also threw a lot of quality pitches. We've got to get that consistent quality, down in the zone. When he's down, he's pretty effective. Very effective."

Buchholz, of course, missed the final 3 12 months of last season with a lower back stress fracture and he acknowledged Tuesday that he's still trying to overcome the "rust factor."

"Yeah, I think there's some rust, even when you don't think there's going to be," he said. "There's always the hesitation going into a game, not really knowing what to expect -- not physically, but mentally -- where you're not part of something for a while.

"There's a couple of guys in the game right now coming off injuries who are off to a little rougher start than they expected. It all goes hand-in-hand. You know you're going to have some ups and downs and you've got to figure out a way to get through it."

Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

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Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

 

QUOTES:

"When he's gotten in trouble, it's been a combination of location and pitches up in the strike zone. That was the case tonight. . . It's more general location than one pitch that he's getting burned on. '' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz's poor start.

"No disrespect to (Jace) Peterson, but you're wanting to force contact. He hasn't hit for a high average.'' - Farrell on Buchholz walking No. 7 hitter Peterson three times.

"When do you walk guys, you do your best to try to minimize the damage and I didn't do a good enough job of that.'' - Buchholz, who saw Peterson come around to score twice after his three walks.

"It's frustrating when you can't put your finger on what you need to do it, and when you need to do it and why. All I can do right now is learn from it and get better in these next couple of days.'' - Buchholz.

"I didn't hear anything. The play was right in front of me, so I couldn't see him say anything. I just assumed I was out.'' - Xander Bogaerts, who was ruled safe at second on a force play by umpire Joe West, but believing he was out, came off the bag and was tagged out in the first inning.

 

NOTES

* Clay Buchholz has allowed five earned runs in four of his five starts this season.

* Heath Hembree pitched multiple innings for the fourth time this season and remains unscored upon in them.

* Over the last eight games, Dustin Pedroia is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with nine extra-base hits.

* All three of Chris Young's hit off lefthanded pitchers this season have been doubles.

* Hanley Ramirez (three hits, two RBI) has driven in a run in each of his last four games and six of his last seven.

* The Sox have scored in the first inning in eight of the last nine games.

 

STARS:

1) Nick Markakis

The Braves right fielder had a four hit night and knocked in three runs.

2) Jhoulys Chacin

Atlanta's starter wasn't overpowering, but he limited the Sox to two runs over five-plus innings and earned the victory.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez broke out a bit at the plate with three hits, while knocking in the first two Red Sox runs.

 

First impressions: Another tough outing for Buchholz

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First impressions: Another tough outing for Buchholz

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves

 

Another night, another less-than-satisfactory start for Clay Buchholz. Since the end of their last homestand, the Red Sox are 6-2. Both of those losses were hung on Buchholz.

Buchholz wasn't horrendous - he did manage to pitch into the seventh inning and five runs in 6 1/3 isn't a shellacking.

But five runs to this Braves lineup is nothing to shout about, either, and Buchholz made matters worse by walking the No. 7 hitter -- Jace Peterson, who came into the game with a .205 average -- three times. Twice, Peterson came around to score.

In fact, the bottom third of the order was 3-for-7 with three walks.

 

Hanley Ramirez showed some progress at the plate.

Before the game, John Farrell noted that Ramirez had been expanding the zone of late, and working to correct the issue with hitting instructors Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez.

Something apparently clicked, as Ramirez was 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats with two RBI.

The one thing that's been lacking for Ramirez: power. He came into the game with just one homer and a paltry .373 slugging percentage.

 

It wasn't much of a night for former Red Sox players.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4, and for the second straight night, failed to catch a routine foul pop-up.

Meanwhile, reliever Alexi Ogando came in for the seventh inning and promptly allowed a leadoff single and a walk to the first two hitters he faced before recording two more outs and getting lifted for lefty Hunter Cervenka.

 

Turnabout is fair play for Chris Young.

Young got the start in left field over Brock Holt, despite the fact that Atlanta started a righthander (Jhoulys Chacin).

Young was 1-for-3 with a double, though that one hit came off lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty.

Then, in the eighth inning with righthander Jim Johnson on the mound for the Braves, John Farrell sent Holt up to pinch-hit for Young.

That marked the first time that Holt hit for Young; to the great consternation of many, Young had been sent up to hit for Holt three times in the first week or so of the season.

By the way: Holt grounded out to end the inning.