Buchholz: 'I feel like this was my most positive outing'

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Buchholz: 'I feel like this was my most positive outing'

BOSTON -- This isn't how you draw it up. Not Clay Buchholz. Not Bobby Valentine. Not anybody.

But after Monday night's 11-6 win over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park, Buchholz improved his record to 3-1, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to record three wins this season.

Buchholz allowed six runs on seven hits, five walks, and a home run in 6.2 innings of work. He's now allowed at least five earned runs in each of his five starts this season.

Fortunately, for Buchholz, the Red Sox keep putting up more runs than he's giving up.

"I feel like it was my most positive outing, aside from the line," said Buchholz after the win.

That's because most of the damage came against him in the seventh inning, where Buchholz gave up five runs on three hits while walking two, before even getting the third out.

Former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick ended Buchholz' night by smashing a two-out, three-run home run into the Oakland bullpen, cutting Boston's lead to 11-6.

As Buchholz was taken out, he was visibly angry. He said it was because he felt the 1-2 curveball that Reddick hit was a good pitch. It was a combination of that and the fact that through six innings, Buchholz was cruising. He hadn't even thrown 80 pitches. And he allowed only one run on a second inning rundown that saw that run cross the plate just before the final out in the inning was made.

"I'm thinking I've got at least two more innings in me after the sixth, and then hand it off to one of the guys. But, it doesn't always happen like you plan on it happening," said Buchholz afterwards.

"I'm probably the only pitcher in baseball that's complaining about winning games," he added. "There's a lot of guys that are throwing the ball well, that are getting losses under their name. So, you've got to take it for what it's worth right now."

And for what it's worth, Buchholz leads the Red Sox in wins. But as for the issues at hand, which once again plagued Buchholz in the seventh inning on Monday night, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he "can't really define it."

"He did what he needed to do for those first six innings, for sure," said Valentine. "He had change ups down. His curveball was biting. His fastball was working. It's another one to build on. He's 3-1 now. So he can always look at that record and say, 'Hey, I'm 3-1, coming off a good outing,' for the next time he goes out there."

The next time he goes out there, Valentine would like to see him allow less hits (seven) and walks (five) than he did on Monday.

"I'm sure that pitching coach Bob McClure and I will put our heads together and try to get a good answer to what's causing it," said Valentine. "You know, they're not big hits. But the walks are concerning. Five walks is a lot, in seven innings."

But Buchholz didn't think so.

"I think I walked five guys, but I had my mind set that I wasn't giving into anybody tonight," he said. "There wasn't going to be a 3-1 fastball down the middle. I was just going to try to make them hit pitches that weren't set on a tee for them. So, I'll take five walks. And I think a couple of them scored. But that's just how I felt like I needed to pitch tonight."

He tied his season-high in strikeout totals, with five on the night. But Buchholz can credit most of that to a changeup that he said was "absolutely" his best changeup of the year.

"There were a couple mechanical things," said Buchholz. "It's hard to go in-depth without showing anybody. There was a couple things that we tweaked. We looked at a lot of video from 2010. That's when the change up was at its best. We saw a couple things from those videos, and tried to mix them in these last couple bullpen sessions.

"Today was the best changeup I've thrown all year. I wasn't second-guessing anything there. I was just throwing it like a fastball basically, just with a different grip."

Through six innings on Monday night, Buchholz was living up to the hype. Everything was going as he had planned it. And then came the seventh inning.

Other than his final stat line, Buchholz is right. Monday night was his most positive outing.

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

 

Pedroia returns

Dustin Pedroia (ribcage) was out of the initial Red Sox lineup on Friday but was later added. Farrell said in the afternoon that Pedroia would be available by emergency Fridayand expected to be back in the lineup Saturday, but clearly, something changed.

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).