Buchholz gives Sox a chance, but can't hold on in 9th

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Buchholz gives Sox a chance, but can't hold on in 9th

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz thought he was done.

With runners on first and third with one out in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine came strolling out to the mound at Fenway Park.

Thinking nothing of it, Buchholz extended his arm and began to place the baseball in the hands of Valentine, while taking a step towards the dugout. For this wasn't the pitching coach coming out to talk this over. This was the manager coming to make a pitching change, so he thought.

But Valentine never took the ball, and Buchholz' day wasn't over. But the decision certainly was up to him.

"I just wanted to make sure he believed -- like I did -- that he had enough," said Valentine after the game. "And he said, 'Guaranteed.'"

"I thought he was coming out to get me, and he was like, 'I'm just coming to check on how you're doing,'" said Buchholz. "And I was like, 'Go back to the dugout, and I'll try to get a ground ball double play right here.'"

That never happened.

After the mound visit, Anthony Gose stole second, and after falling behind in the count and first base open, Buchholz intentionally walked the left-handed hitting Kelly Johnson to load the bases and face Omar Vizquel with one out.

And Vizquel took an 0-2 cutter the other way to left field, that scored Rajai Davis on a sacrifice fly, to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 lead, which then ended Buchholz' night, and ended up being the game-winning run.

"It was supposed to be a cutter in," said Buchholz after the 4-3 loss. "And I didn't get it in."

"All year long, Clay's been totally honest with me," said Valentine. "After eight innings he felt great. So, he wasn't really stressed there in the ninth."

Buchholz finished the game having thrown 121 pitches and allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out four in 8 23 innings. It marked his sixth loss of the season.

"He kept making good pitches," said Valentine after the loss. "He just kept making good pitches the whole night. They scored three runs in that fourth inning where they had their fast runners on, and they hit balls off the end of the bat. A single to left, a short sac fly. Only guys on their lineup that can score on a sac fly. He made good pitches the whole night. He deserved better."

It comes a day after Valentine called out his struggling rotation, saying, "Guys are tired of playing from behind, I'll guarantee you that," following a Saturday night loss that saw Daisuke Matsuzaka pulled in the second inning after spotting the Blue Jays five runs.

If there is anyone on the Red Sox pitching staff that has given them their best chance to not play from behind, it's Buchholz. And his first three scoreless innings proved just that, as Boston took a 2-0 lead into the fourth.

Buchholz then gave up three runs. Nothing was hit too hard though. And it wasn't like Buchholz was getting racked. Because he then retired 13 in a row, up until Davis' single in the ninth with one out. David eventually scored the game-winning run on Vizquel's sacrifice fly.

But Buchholz was glad to see Valentine not take him out of the game, when he walked out to the mound in the ninth. If a run was going to score, it was going to be against Buchholz. He just didn't execute. But at least, throughout the game, he did something that the Red Sox' other starters haven't. he gave them a chance to win.

"We're trying to get deep into games, and that's sort of what I've been preaching for the last three months or so," said Buchholz after the loss. "So it's good to see him come out to the mound and not already have the call on someone else to come in."

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.