Valentine sees positives in Buchholz' start

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Valentine sees positives in Buchholz' start

BOSTON With a record of 3-1, Clay Buchholz is leading Red Sox pitchers. This, despite an ERA of 8.69 and not throwing a quality start yet in any of his five outings, the only Sox starter who has not done so.

Manager Bobby Valentine met with the right-hander Tuesday afternoon.

Monday night against the As, the team with the worst offense in baseball, Buchholz went 623 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, five walks, and a hit batter, with five strikeouts. He earned the win, but failed to get through seven innings despite a 10-run lead. He has gone seven innings just once, in his second start, against the Rays on April 14.

In several of his outings, most of the damage against him has been done in one big inning, as it was last night when the As scored five runs in the seventh a season high for runs scored in one inning for Oakland.

Much of Buchholzs success can be attributed to his American League-best run support average of 10.86. He was the beneficiary of all the teams offense last night in the 11-6 win.

Manager Bobby Valentine said Buchholz was dealing with a blister problem Monday night.

They tell me its a chronic, its a little thing that pops up often when hes throwing well because that curveball grip, Valentine said. It sure comes off the fingers so hot. And he doctors it and pitches with it. He never complained about it and it was never an issue during the game. Im bringing it up just because it popped up in the report after the game.

Still, Buchholz and Valentine have been able to see the positives in his outings.

He really liked the way the ball was coming out of his hand, Valentine said. So did pitching coach Bob McClure. So did I the majority of the time last night and I know everyone wants to look at the numbers and the numbers really arent pretty except for the 3-1 and a lot of innings havent been pretty. The idea that he can improve is absolutely paramount in all of our minds. He just left my office where we talked about that. Theres no doubt that he has plenty of room for improvement.

Perhaps Buchholz is still rusty after missing much of last season with a stress fracture in his lower back. He made his last start June 16, spending the rest of the season on the disabled list.
Its hard for me to tell what the cause and effect of these things are, Valentine said. Im not sure that hes totally comfortable with all of his pitches yet. I think he's had games where hes really liked his two-seamer, really liked his curve ball, really liked his changeup at different times. But they havent been the total package the entire time. Last night he pitched through a blister situation most of the night which might have contributed a little to his command. He does it often.

The pitches that he's featuring should be correlating to better numbers. They should correlate because they're pretty good pitches. Not a lot of the other arms in the league are featuring the pitches that he's featuring. I can't go by whats happened in the past because I really dont have that barometer.

Valentine met with Buchholz in his office Tuesday afternoon.

Just talked about whats going on, Valentine said. It was the most relaxed that I've seen him all year. The most natural. I think thats a good sign.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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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

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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.