Buchholz finally puts it all together

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Buchholz finally puts it all together

BOSTON This was the Clay Buchholz the Red Sox have been waiting for.

Dominant. Efficient. Durable. And winning.

Buchholz went eight innings against the Blue Jays Friday night at Rogers Center, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks with a season-high seven strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches, 71 for strikes, as the Sox beat the Jays, 7-2.

Buchholz improved his record to 5-2, dropping his ERA from 7.19 to 6.58.

Hes been building to that, thats for sure, said manager Bobby Valentine. Clay Buchholz was terrific tonight. Extra on his fastball, terrific changeup, changed his angle a little on his breaking ball, two strikes very competitive. I like that. He likes that. And I expect we can get more of the same.

The two runs Buchholz gave up were on solo home runs with two outs, one by Yunel Escobar in the third, the other by David Cooper in the seventh. Other than that, the Jays offered Buchholz little in the way of a challenge.

It felt good, Buchholz said. Its been building up to that last four or five times out. I just hadnt had the inning where I could shut them down without scoring you know, three or four runs in one inning. It came together tonight. I was able to get weak contact in big situations. A couple of DPs in big situations and guys hit and put up some runs.

Three of Buchholz's seven strikeouts were at the expense of Jose Bautista. Buchholz got him swinging at fastballs in the first and third innings, and looking at a curveball in the sixth.

Buchholz struck out the side in order in the sixth, starting with Bautista. He then got Edwin Encarnacion, also looking at a curveball, and Colby Rasmus looking at fastball.

Buchholz is pleased with the progress of his fastball.

It just felt good, comfortable, he said. I feel like my arm is getting
stronger. Given the back thing last year and starting to throw this offseason, it was more of a precautionary thing rather than trying to get it in shape to go out there and endure 200 innings of pitching. Its getting to the point where it should have in the middle of spring training right now.

In his last two starts, Buchholz has a 2.40 ERA, giving up four total earned runs on 15 innings with 13 strikeouts.

It was the longest Buchholz has gone into a game this season, and the longest since eight innings against the White Sox in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2010. His last longer outing was a complete-game shutout in Baltimore on June 4, 2010.

He wanted the eighth and I wanted him to do it, Valentine said. He didn't have many pitches. Now hes conquered eight. And it was only 108 pitches when it was all said and done. But there were a couple of tough innings. I know its only June 1 but when our team comes together and individuals build as the season goes on, thats how a team builds confidence in itself.

He came down and asked me if I had anything left and I said yeah, I have a lot left, Buchholz said.

Which is what the Red Sox want to hear.

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park. 

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.