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

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.