Buchholz finally finds his form

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Buchholz finally finds his form

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK -- Six weeks into the regular season, the Red Sox had not seen much of the Clay Buchholz who compiled the second-best ERA among American League starters last season.

There were good starts, including his last, which came with an extra degree of difficulty: he first had to wait out a rain delay of more than two hours. There were flashes, certainly, but nothing as consistently dominant, from start to finish, that typified his outings last year.

But Friday night, the Buchholz of 2010 re-appeared. And he showed up in an unlikely place -- Yankee Stadium, where Buchholz had struggled historically.

Not Friday. Buchholz limited the Yankees to just two runs over seven innings. He fanned seven thanks to a lively fastball which featured plenty of movement, and just for good measure, he mixed in an effective changeup.

"I thought he was tremendous,'' said Terry Francona after the Red Sox held off the New York Yankees, 5-4. "He was really good. He threw the ball down and with movement and he had good velocity. We're all pleased, especially against a lineup like that.''

That lineup and this ballpark had been tough on Buchholz. Before Friday night, he had a 6.35 career ERA at Yankee Stadium. His career ERA against the Yankees wasn't much better (6.25).

But Buchholz aggressively attacked the Yankees from the beginning, registering his first 1-2-3 opening inning this season. Not until the fourth inning when Alex Rodriguez singled through the hole between short and third did the Yankees collect a hit.

"I just tried to stay on location,'' Buchholz said. "I was thinking that when I was throwing a two-seamer in to the righthanders to make sure I got it in and not leave it over the middle of the plate. I did that for the most part, then kept them off-balance with the off-speed pitches.''

Buchholz thought his season began to turn around last weekend against Minnesota when, out of desperation, the Sox sent him back out to the mound after a lengthy rain delay.

Thanks to an off-day and a rejiggering of the rotation, Buchholz was pitching with the benefit of some extra rest, but never felt out of sorts.

"The last two have been fun,'' he said. "It's a little bit easier to pitch when you've got all your pitches working. Tonight, I felt really good with everything. The cutter was a really good pitch, the changeup was good and my two-seamer was good, too.''

Not until the fifth was Buchholz was really challenged. Jorge Posada singled hard to right to start the inning and Russell Martin jumped on a mistake and drove it out to left-center to tie the game.

Until then, however, the Yankees had not hit the ball hard against him -- he had a total of 18 swings and misses, the most in any start this season -- and he closed strong.

After the homer by Martin and a single to Brett Gardner, Buchholz retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced.

He took the Red Sox through seven complete for the first time this year and looked like he had something left.

The win was his third in a row, and the suspicion is, after a month in which he took some time to figure things out, Buchholz has turned the corner and may be ready to go on a long roll, like the one he rode through the final five months of 2010.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

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Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-0 win over the Yankees:

QUOTES:

"He threw all four pitches tonight for strikes, but most importantly, (he's shown) the ability to make adjustments from pitch-to-pitch. If he gets out of whack or misses with a pitch, he's right back in the strike zone.'' - John Farrell on Rick Porcello.

"You look back at the first month and I think we've gained a lot of trust in each other up and down the lineup. That to me is the strongest attribute right now on this team.'' - Farrell on the Red Sox after one month of play.

"Pretty similar. I'm getting a lot of timely hits, and it's helping the team.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr., asked if this last week is similar to the hot streak he enjoyed last August.

"I'm comfortable. I'm in a good place, mentally and physically. I worked really hard to get where I am now and I'm going to continue to work.'' – Bradley on his hot streak.

"Much better fastball command. I've been able to execute my sinker better and that's allowed me to get ahead of hitters and if I do fall behind, I've been able to come back.'' - Porcello on cutting his walk rate by more than half compared to this point a year ago.

NOTES:

* The shutout at Fenway was the first for the Red Sox against the Yankees since May 14, 2011.

* The eight-run margin was the biggest margin in a Red Sox shutout over the Yankees since Sept. 6, 2003 when they won 11-0 in New York.

* The four triples in April for Jackie Bradley Jr. are the most for a Red Sox hitter in that month since Jose Offerman in 1999.

* In his last nine games against the Yankees, Bradley is 14-for-31 (.452) with nine extra-base hits.

* Rick Porcello's 5-0 start to the season is the best run for a Red Sox starter since Josh Beckett was 7-0 in 2007.

* The Yankees have failed to homer in seven games this season; they're 0-7 in those games.

STARS:

1) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley had three extra-base hits (two triples and a double) for eight total bases, and knocked in three runs.

2) Rick Porcello

The Red Sox starter tossed seven shutout innings and allowed only two baserunners into scoring position while issuing just one walk.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had a double in the second and a single in the sixth, good for three RBI, a season high for him.

First impressions from Red Sox' 8-0 win over Yankees: Bradley on a tear

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First impressions from Red Sox' 8-0 win over Yankees: Bradley on a tear

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-0 win over the Yankees:

* Rick Porcello doesn't seem like a weak link in the rotation now.

Porcello blanked the Yankees for seven innings and is now 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA for the season. For the fourth time in five outings, he pitched into the seventh innings.

The Yankees threatened only once - in the fifth, when they had runners at the corners and two out. But Porcello got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out, stranding two and was never in trouble again.

Porcello's command is improved over a year ago. In his first five starts last year, covering 30 innings, he walked 10. This year, he's pitched 32 2/3 innings and issued just five walks.

* Jackie Bradley is swinging it like he did last August.

Bradley went on an extra-base tear late last summer, rocketing doubles, triples and homers for a stretch of a few weeks that was completely unexpected.

The last week has been like that stretch, with seven extra-base hits in the last seven games. He knocked in the first run of the night with a double to left, then delivered another in the sixth with a triple to the triangle and two more in the seventh with a triple into the right field corner.

In the two games against the Yankees, he's got four extra-base hits, a walk and five RBI.

* David Ortiz has started 20 games this season. He's knocked in 19 runs.

Ortiz added his second homer in as many nights, to go along with a single and walk.

It's doubtful that he's going to keep up his RBI-per-game pace, but when he's locked in the way he is now, he impacts virtually the entire lineup from the cleanup position.

* If you think Pablo Sandoval was bad, maybe you haven't been watching Chase Headley.

The Yankee third baseman was a free agent the same winter that Sandoval was and some argued that he would have been a better fit for the Sox than was Panda.

But 22 games into the 2016 season, Headley has yet to collect a single base hit and has an OPS of .405. He's hitting .153 and has virtually no range to speak of at third base.

* A lot has changed for Junichi Tazawa.

A year ago, Tazawa was overworked in the first half of the season. On Saturday night, he got an inning of work in the ninth in a blowout game because he hadn't pitched since last Sunday -- thanks to strong starting efforts from the rotation over the past two series.