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.

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Robbie Ross Jr. is getting elbow checked out

Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr.'s tough 2017 has reached a potentially scary moment.

Expected to be the team's lead lefty out of the bullpen, Ross has twice been demoted and struggled in the majors. Now, he's on the disabled list at Triple-A Pawtucket with inflammation in his throwing elbow — a health situation that might explain why he wasn't pitching well in the big leagues.

The Red Sox expect to know more about Ross' situation later in the week.

Ross hasn't pitched in game for Pawtucket since he was most recently optioned. If the 27-year-old was indeed hurt in the majors, it's possible he could retroactivley wind up on the major league disabled list. Ross was demoted May 19, and is on the DL retroactive to May 25. 

Per BrooksBaseball.net, Ross sat at 93 mph with his fastball on May 12. He dropped down to 92 in the following appearance, and the next two outings were at 91 mph. He averaged 94 mph in 2016.

Ross had a 7.00 ERA in eight major league appearances this year, striking out nine and walking five in nine innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in a 2016 season where he established himself as a key member of the 'pen.

Ross said he was shocked when he was demoted for the first time this year. 

Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

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Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

BOSTON (AP)  Christian Bergman rebounded from a miserable start with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer for a day. Boyer will go back down Monday when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.

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