McAdam: Buchholz energizes worn-out Red Sox


McAdam: Buchholz energizes worn-out Red Sox

By Sean McAdam 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 Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off


Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Rick Porcello P

Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.


But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.