Buchholz saves Sox by returning after rain delay

191542.jpg

Buchholz saves Sox by returning after rain delay

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON After a rain delay of two hours and seven minutes before the third inning, the last pitcher anyone expected to see on the mound at Fenway Park was Clay Buchholz, who started the game. But that's exactly who was there.

Buchholz threw 29 pitches (21 strikes) in the first two innings against the Twins Saturday afternoon. When play was halted at 1:53 p.m., he had a 1-0 lead.

It was an unorthodox move for Buchholz to resume the game, and it never would have happened if not for the overload of work the Sox bullpen has endured over the last few days. In the previous three games, Red Sox relievers pitched a combined 18 13 innings.

Both of Terry Francona's long relievers -- Tim Wakefield (who was forced to start because the scheduled pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, had been pressed into relief duty in Wednesday's rain-delayed 13-inning game) and Alfredo Aceves -- had pitched Friday and were unavailable Saturday. Had Buchholz not returned, the Sox would have been forced to squeeze seven innings (and maybe more, if the game had gone beyond the ninth) out of five pitchers, most of whom are not stretched out to work more than an inning at a time.

Still, it was a difficult decision.

It always is, said pitching coach Curt Young. You hate that any time there's a rain delay. Thats why we tried to definitely keep Buchholz moving. He played catch in the batting cage four different times, with a little bit of rest in between. So that kept him relatively hot, and head trainer Mike Reinold did everything he could to keep him stretched out.

Buchholz came out for the third inning, needing just eight pitches (seven strikes) to get three outs. He struck out Luke Hughes on three pitches, before getting Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe to foul out.

Francona was confident sending Buchholz back out to the mound.

He really felt pretty good, Francona said. Hes got an extra day going into the next start because of an off-day May 12 and we took him out after five innings because that is a lot to ask. Saying that, if you dont send Buck out there were going to have to pitch somebody else too much.

He did it once last year and handled it very well. So we tried to get the best out of what we could, and he did a great job. He went back out there and I thought his touch and feel of his pitches was better.

It was one of Buchholzs best performances of the season. He went five scoreless innings, with season-lows in hits (two) and walks (one) and a season-high six strikeouts against the team that entered the game with the fewest strikeouts in baseball (167) as the Sox beat the Twins, 4-0. Buchholz, who improved to 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA, threw 61 pitches, 44 for strikes.

It was his first shutout performance of the season, and first since Aug. 22 against Toronto.

It was the first time of the year that I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes at a point, Buchholz said. You dont go out there every day and have the luxury of those days and whenever you do have it you come out there and throw a different first-pitch strike to a couple of guys that you know can hit a ball a long way.

So, I was able to mix it up a bit. Threw a couple of pitches that were up in the zone that got popups . . . and was able to get out of the inning. Yeah, everything felt good today.

During the delay, Buchholz threw in the batting cage under the stands behind the Red Sox dugout. He wasnt throwing at maximum effort, but it was more than just playing catch.

Well, our cage is a little short down there, Young said. So he wasnt at 60 feet. It was about 50 feet, but with our catcher. So it wasnt just him playing catch. He was still throwing his pitches.

Buchholz knew from the start of the delay that he would likely be going back out, which helped him adjust.

Right when it started, they said it was going to be 45 minutes, Buchholz said. And I said, Okay, well, I can definitely stay loose for 45 minutes. It got to 45 minutes and they said it was going to be another hour.

It was different . . . If I would have thrown 50 pitches in the first two innings, it probably wouldnt have happened, probably would have gotten a little stiff. But I felt like I could go out there and do it. Played some long toss before I went back in the bullpen, felt fine, and I felt fine throwing out there too. So, it worked out good.

It worked out for the bullpen, too, which is close to getting back to normal. When Buchholz was done, Rich Hill, Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning.

Buchholz at least making five innings and then everyone else going one inning helps with everybody else for tomorrow, Young said.

Daisukes rest got interrupted a little bit with the 13-inning game the other night. So I think once we get by Sunday well feel real good about where everybody is bullpen-wise and starter-wise.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP