On Buchholz's balk

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On Buchholz's balk

Josh Beckett. Daniel Bard. David Ortiz. Kelly Shoppach. Adrian Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia. Kevin Youkilis. Carl Crawford. Jacoby Ellsbury.

This season, at one point or another, every guy listed above has been used as an example of whats wrong with the Red Sox. Whether its their performance on the field, how they carry themselves off it, or things theyve said to the media, each player in his own way has come to define the selfishness and entitlement that many believe has left Bostons clubhouse burnt beyond recognition and in desperate need of cleansing.

This week, its Clay Buchholz's turn in the grinder.

Admittedly, the backlash against Buchholz for refusing to pitch on Sunday night is nothing compared to the firestorm that some of his teammates have faced. Mostly, because its not that big of a deal. Still, if you listen closely enough, there are plenty of people moaning about Buchholzs balk. Who cite his refusal to step up in place of Josh Beckett as just another reason to hate this team; another piece of unmitigable evidence as to why Ben Cherington should have a deadline fire sale and re-start the Sox from scratch.

In a way, I understand the animosity. After all, its not like they were asking Clay to pitch on three days rest, or even four. It was five days; his normal schedule. And the team was clearly in need of a lift why else would they ask at all?

But for those hating on Buchholz, there are a few things to consider:

In his five previous seasons, he's thrown more than 100 innings only once.

With 12 more innings this season, Buchholz will have thrown 92.1, which will mark the second highest total of his entire career and we're barely halfway through June.

In his four previous starts, he's thrown 111, 108, 125 and 103 pitches. It's only the third time in his career that he's had a stretch of four (or more) starts with 100-plus pitches, and the first time since 2010.

Earlier this season, he watched the Sox push Beckett a little harder than many people believed they should most notably, in his 126-pitch effort against the White Sox on April 29 and now Beckett's on the DL with a sore shoulder.

Buchholz is less than year removed from a back injury and subsequent back surgery that destroyed his 2011 season.

So, in a perfect world, do you wish that Buchholz barged into Bobby V's hotel room in Chicago and demanded the ball on Sunday night? Yeah, sure. Of course you do.

But can you understand why Buchholz wanted to stay focused, on schedule meaning the schedule he'd been operating under since walking off the mound last week in Miami and continue to build upon this remarkable mid-season turn around?

I can.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.