Boston Red Sox

On Buchholz's balk

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On Buchholz's balk

Josh Beckett. Daniel Bard. David Ortiz. Kelly Shoppach. Adrian Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia. Kevin Youkilis. Carl Crawford. Jacoby Ellsbury.

This season, at one point or another, every guy listed above has been used as an example of whats wrong with the Red Sox. Whether its their performance on the field, how they carry themselves off it, or things theyve said to the media, each player in his own way has come to define the selfishness and entitlement that many believe has left Bostons clubhouse burnt beyond recognition and in desperate need of cleansing.

This week, its Clay Buchholz's turn in the grinder.

Admittedly, the backlash against Buchholz for refusing to pitch on Sunday night is nothing compared to the firestorm that some of his teammates have faced. Mostly, because its not that big of a deal. Still, if you listen closely enough, there are plenty of people moaning about Buchholzs balk. Who cite his refusal to step up in place of Josh Beckett as just another reason to hate this team; another piece of unmitigable evidence as to why Ben Cherington should have a deadline fire sale and re-start the Sox from scratch.

In a way, I understand the animosity. After all, its not like they were asking Clay to pitch on three days rest, or even four. It was five days; his normal schedule. And the team was clearly in need of a lift why else would they ask at all?

But for those hating on Buchholz, there are a few things to consider:

In his five previous seasons, he's thrown more than 100 innings only once.

With 12 more innings this season, Buchholz will have thrown 92.1, which will mark the second highest total of his entire career and we're barely halfway through June.

In his four previous starts, he's thrown 111, 108, 125 and 103 pitches. It's only the third time in his career that he's had a stretch of four (or more) starts with 100-plus pitches, and the first time since 2010.

Earlier this season, he watched the Sox push Beckett a little harder than many people believed they should most notably, in his 126-pitch effort against the White Sox on April 29 and now Beckett's on the DL with a sore shoulder.

Buchholz is less than year removed from a back injury and subsequent back surgery that destroyed his 2011 season.

So, in a perfect world, do you wish that Buchholz barged into Bobby V's hotel room in Chicago and demanded the ball on Sunday night? Yeah, sure. Of course you do.

But can you understand why Buchholz wanted to stay focused, on schedule meaning the schedule he'd been operating under since walking off the mound last week in Miami and continue to build upon this remarkable mid-season turn around?

I can.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.