McAdam: Buchholz energizes worn-out Red Sox

191542.jpg

McAdam: Buchholz energizes worn-out Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- They had arrived at their hotel here shortly before 7 a.m. Friday morning, having left New York hours earlier after a rain delay added 3 12 hours to their work schedule Thursday.

They trudged into the clubhouse mid-afternoon and were running low on energy. To keep their six-game winning streak going and maintain their perfect road trip after a sweep of the Yankees, the Red Sox would need the help of their starter, Clay Buchholz.

Long innings in the field would be worse than usual on this night. The Red Sox dearly needed efficiency and Buchholz provided plenty of it.

Through the first five innings, he had three 1-2-3 frames and another in which he faced just four hitters. He permitted just three baserunners in that span, and one was beyond his responsibility -- an error by shorstop Jed Lowrie.

He wasn't just good, he was quick -- exactly what the Sox needed to post an efficient 5-1 victory, their seventh in a row.

"Buck pitched great and it was a big win,'' noted Dustin Pedroia, who, having stopped in Boston Thursday for a checkup on his knee, flew to Toronto Friday morning on normal sleep. "It was good to get on the board before they did and let Buck do his thing.

"He had quick innings, his tempo was great. He threw the ball great against a really good lineup. He did a great job.''

Buchholz was working on two extra days' rest, thanks to some concerns about back tightness that dated back a few starts.

But Friday, he wasn't restricted at all. His fastball was crisp and his breaking pitches -- his curveball in particular -- had some finish that was missing last time out.

Buchholz had tried to fly ahead a night early to Toronto, but his flight was canceled in New York and he had to travel with the team, arriving in the wee hours.

"Once you step between the lines,'' he said, "everything usually stops for you and then you can run on some adrenaline. My bullpen session before the game wasnt as good as Id like it to be, but as soon as a hitter steps in the box, it changed for us and me and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia were on the same page for the most part, kept the flow of the game going, and felt pretty good.''

Best of all, Buchholz was worry-free after pitching with some trepidation in his last outing.

"It's still there a little bit,'' he said of some nagging back discomfort, "but it's not near what it was. When youve got something nagging, you dont want to mess it up any more than it already is, so you try to favor it a little bit. Today I wasnt favoring it and I was able to get some good extension on pitches I needed to be extended on.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

red_sox_brian_johnson_052617.jpg

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

Remember that infield hit by Jonathan Villar of the Brewers off Craig Kimbrel on May 11 in Milwaukee?

Don't worry, nobody does. That's the last hit off the Red Sox closer. That's right. One hit this month.

How dominant has Kimbrel been? Going into Saturday, right-handed hitters don't have a hit off him in their past 39 at-bats. Opponents are hitting .083 against him. Move the decimal point and 0.83 happens to be his season ERA, too, to go with 13 saves. 

Here's more via @SoxNotes:

Kimbrel, 28, has been one of baseball's best closers for years with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. His first year in Boston last season was solid with 31 saves and a 3.40 ERA, but his walks climbed (30 total and 5.1 per 9 innings, the second-highest totals of his career). He also struggled in non-save situations.

There's been no struggling lately. The last run Kimbrel gave up was a home run by Kendrys Morales of the Blue Jays in the ninth inning on April 20 in Toronto that tied the score at 1 in a game won by the Red Sox 4-1 in 10. Kimbrel got the win and his only blown save of the season.

His three-out save Friday night was his first outing without a strikeout since a one-out save April 23. That followed his four-strikeout inning Thursday night.