Boston Red Sox

Buchholz finally finds his form

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Buchholz finally finds his form

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK -- Six weeks into the regular season, the Red Sox had not seen much of the Clay Buchholz who compiled the second-best ERA among American League starters last season.

There were good starts, including his last, which came with an extra degree of difficulty: he first had to wait out a rain delay of more than two hours. There were flashes, certainly, but nothing as consistently dominant, from start to finish, that typified his outings last year.

But Friday night, the Buchholz of 2010 re-appeared. And he showed up in an unlikely place -- Yankee Stadium, where Buchholz had struggled historically.

Not Friday. Buchholz limited the Yankees to just two runs over seven innings. He fanned seven thanks to a lively fastball which featured plenty of movement, and just for good measure, he mixed in an effective changeup.

"I thought he was tremendous,'' said Terry Francona after the Red Sox held off the New York Yankees, 5-4. "He was really good. He threw the ball down and with movement and he had good velocity. We're all pleased, especially against a lineup like that.''

That lineup and this ballpark had been tough on Buchholz. Before Friday night, he had a 6.35 career ERA at Yankee Stadium. His career ERA against the Yankees wasn't much better (6.25).

But Buchholz aggressively attacked the Yankees from the beginning, registering his first 1-2-3 opening inning this season. Not until the fourth inning when Alex Rodriguez singled through the hole between short and third did the Yankees collect a hit.

"I just tried to stay on location,'' Buchholz said. "I was thinking that when I was throwing a two-seamer in to the righthanders to make sure I got it in and not leave it over the middle of the plate. I did that for the most part, then kept them off-balance with the off-speed pitches.''

Buchholz thought his season began to turn around last weekend against Minnesota when, out of desperation, the Sox sent him back out to the mound after a lengthy rain delay.

Thanks to an off-day and a rejiggering of the rotation, Buchholz was pitching with the benefit of some extra rest, but never felt out of sorts.

"The last two have been fun,'' he said. "It's a little bit easier to pitch when you've got all your pitches working. Tonight, I felt really good with everything. The cutter was a really good pitch, the changeup was good and my two-seamer was good, too.''

Not until the fifth was Buchholz was really challenged. Jorge Posada singled hard to right to start the inning and Russell Martin jumped on a mistake and drove it out to left-center to tie the game.

Until then, however, the Yankees had not hit the ball hard against him -- he had a total of 18 swings and misses, the most in any start this season -- and he closed strong.

After the homer by Martin and a single to Brett Gardner, Buchholz retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced.

He took the Red Sox through seven complete for the first time this year and looked like he had something left.

The win was his third in a row, and the suspicion is, after a month in which he took some time to figure things out, Buchholz has turned the corner and may be ready to go on a long roll, like the one he rode through the final five months of 2010.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

BOSTON — Even before Mookie Betts wrist flared up and Eduardo Nunez re-aggravated his knee Monday, the Red Sox’ health situation looked tenuous heading into the final week of the regular season. Particularly when it came to position players. Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup Monday after a 1-for-26 road trip.

Now the scene turns scary. Consider that every other American League team that has clinched a postseason spot (or in the case of the Twins, is expected to) is one of the majors’ top five teams in runs scored per game: the Astros, Yankees, Indians and Twins. The Sox are 10th. 

The Sox lineup lacks firepower to begin with. Losing any more at this time of year is a recipe for a rough October.

"It sucks. It sucks," Nunez said. "Especially this time of year when it's close to the playoffs. It sucks."

The regular-season results show the Sox have adapted well overall when guys like Pedroia and Nunez have missed time. But that’s the regular season, and adding Betts to the mix is just disquieting.

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Nunez on Monday returned to the lineup for the first time in 16 days. Now he isn’t expected back until during the Astros series, his right knee injury re-aggravated

But there’s room for good news yet. Betts is to get his left wrist examined Tuesday. A positive prognosis there, and there should be a sense of a crisis averted. On Monday night, he expected to be fine, but he also didn't know what was going on. 

Farrell before the game made clear Nunez wasn’t exactly full go yet.

“[His return is] quicker than what it possibly could have been. You’re talking about a ligament damage to the PCL [posterior cruciate ligament] and I know it’s less severe than an ACL/MCL, but still it’s about pain tolerance,” Farrell said. “It’s about managing it. His body has to recondition to take care of that. His muscles have to respond in a different way. … If he feels a little bit of a zinger, that’s going to go away. He’s not putting himself at further risk.”

Farrell said after the game the feeling is Nunez didn’t do any new damage, but nonetheless, it’s easy to think now the Sox should have waited longer

Meanwhile, Pedroia’s been managing a left knee injury all season and didn’t play.

“When the knee starts to talk back to him a little bit, we’ve all got to listen to it and give him a down day,” Farrell said. “I would expect him to be back on the  field tomorrow.”

Farrell thought it reasonable to connect the knee to Pedroia’s recent poor performance hitting wise.

All year, resiliency has been a buzzword for Sox because of their propensity for late-inning comebacks. Sunday’s eighth-inning rally against the Reds was the latest example, leading to the Sox’ 42nd come-from-behind win. 

How they’ve dealt with a variety of health situations adds another layer to their reputation for handling adversity. Per spotrac.com, the Sox have had the fifth most disabled list days this season, 1,601. 

The Indians were doubted going into last year’s postseason because of health situations with their pitching. They did pretty well. But it’d also be foolish to minimize the importance of injuries to Pedroia, Nunez and Betts, and how they look heading into October.

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

BOSTON — First Mookie Betts right hand was bothering him. Now his left wrist is acting up to the point he was pulled from Monday's 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays in the eighth inning and is headed for an exam to find out what's going on Monday.

"I’m not really that concerned. I think I’m  going to be fine," Betts said. "Just a couple days ago. I just took a swing and felt it. It’s just been kind of painful for swings, but that’s just the part of the season."

Betts felt it again on a swing Monday.

Betts, who's always a calm guy, didn't seem to be particularly worried. But when he was asked to describe the sensation, it sounded far from pleasant.

"Just like a sharp pain," Betts said. "I can’t really move my hand for a little bit, but I think, again, I don’t really know what’s going on. We’ll find out tomorrow."

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