Notes: A long, strong night for Buchholz


Notes: A long, strong night for Buchholz

By MaureenMullen

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz threw more pitches, 127, than hed ever thrown before.

It was more pitches than any other Red Sox starter this season, and any other pitcher in baseball besides Philadelphias Roy Halladay, who threw 130 on April 24 against the Padres.

It was more pitches than just about any pitcher had ever thrown in a Sox uniform for manager Terry Francona. The last Sox pitcher who threw more was Jon Lester, in his no-hitter almost three years ago to the day May 19, 2008 against the Royals.

Buchholz went seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 3.42, giving up four hits and a walk, matching a season high with seven strikeouts, helping the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 1-0, on a miserably rainy night at Fenway Park.

He was terrific, and he needed to be, because their guy Tigers starter Phil Coke was pretty good, too, said manager Terry Francona. "He had a high pitch count, but I think part of it is he threw a lot of strikes. Just ran to lot a 3-and-2 counts, lot of swings and misses. The couple times he got in a bind he pitched out of it. And good changeup. Elevated his fastball when he wanted to. And really pitched well.

Despite his efforts, though, he did not get the win. Jarrod Saltalamacchias double off the Wall in the eighth inning scored Carl Crawford for the games only run. But by that time, Buchholz had given way to Daniel Bard, who earned his first win of the season.

"He was on tonight, Saltalamacchia said of Buchholz. He's been on the last three starts I've caught him. Had that sinker working, keeping the ball down. A lot of his pitches were foul balls. They kept fouling them and working the pitch count. He still gave us strong innings and got us what we needed.

It was not an easy night to pitch rainy, cold, foggy, and windy. The game had a 26-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth.

"Yeah it's tough, Saltalamacchia said. Rain's coming. Sitting there in cold. Tough to go out there. Both pitchers Buchholz and Coke were prepared.

The Tigers lefty matched Buchholz, going seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, needing just 78 pitches.

It was just the elements of playing here, Buchholz said. This homestand, this stretch of weather that weve had, I dont think its easy for anybody to go out there and throw. Their guy matched every pitch I threw only about half of them though. It was tough at times but thats some of the things you have to deal with.

Buchholz was pleased with all his pitches, especially his two-seam fastball and cutter. He retired the first eight batters he faced before walking Brandon Inge. He didnt allow a hit until Miguel Cabreras double with two outs in the fourth. The walk to Inge was the only one of the game, setting a career-long streak of three starts with one or fewer walks.

Two-seam was there again tonight. Felt good with the cutter. Threw a lot of cutters there at the end, just a pitch they were making contact with but wasnt squaring it up. So I guess got to keep throwing whats working for you. Threw some really good pitches they fouled off and went into some deep counts. Probably didn't throw enough curveballs. Had a good curveball tonight but after the fourth or fifth innings didnt go back to it because I felt really good throwing the changeup or two-seam in.

He was not affected, he said, by the number of pitches or the weather.

I felt pretty good, he said. I was trying to overthrow a couple of times. Sometimes when you throw harder it doesnt come out near as good so I think that was something that had to do with that. Body felt good, legs felt fine. I felt like I still had my legs underneath me. It was the first time Ive done that so I was obviously looking over at the scoreboard seeing how many pitches Id thrown and you're almost at he end of it but I was glad that Tito left me out there without giving up all those runs. I felt better me giving them up than somebody else feeling sorry about it.

He also matched his career high with two hit two batters in the seventh -- Jhonny Peralta with one out and Brandon Inge with two outs -- which he set on June 20, 2010 against the Dodgers. It was the first time he has hit a batter this season.

I just didnt want to miss middle, he said. Supposed be sinkers in. Just came out wrong. Definitely not trying hit anybody in that position.

With two-fifths of the Red Sox starting rotation going to the disabled list this week John Lackey Monday with an elbow strain and Daisuke Matsuzaka Wednesday with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament Buchholz said he felt no more responsibility to go deep into the game than he would on any other night.

No, our bullpen is good, he said. They can come in and do the job if one of the starters doesnt do it. My mindsets going out there and trying to pitch deep in the game regardless of whats going on with everyone else. Just trying to help this team get back in the dugout and score some runs for us.

Not everyone saw it that way, though.

Buchholz was phenomenal, said Jonathan Papelbon, who earned his eighth save with a scoreless ninth. He was able to hand the ball off to Bard, then myself. That for us is huge, not only for this game but tomorrow as well.

One game after compiling a season-high 15 hits in a nine-inning game, the Sox had just four, all singles, except for Saltalamacchia's RBI double in the eighth.

Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-2 extending his hit streak to six games. He is batting .348 (8-for-23) in that stretch.

Jed Lowrie went 1-for-2 off Phil Coke and is now 8 for his last 13 (.615) off left-handers since the start of May.

Saltalamacchia has 10 RBI for the season, and five have come in "close and late" situations.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong


Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.