Nightmare continues for Sox starters

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Nightmare continues for Sox starters

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Entering Saturdays game against the Yankees, Red Sox pitchers had an American League-worst 6.95 ERA. They did nothing to improve their standing by giving up eight earned runs as the Sox suffered their seventh loss in their first eight games of the season, 9-4.

Clay Buchholz lasted just 3 23 innings, giving up eight hits on five runs (four earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. He also hung a curveball to Yankees No. 9 hitter Russell Martin in the fourth, which Martin deposited into the first row of Monster seats for a three-run home run.

Buchholz (0-2) threw 92 pitches, 55 strikes, including 32 pitches in the fourth inning when he faced seven batters recording two outs.

High pitch count, said manager Terry Francona. Every inning was a lot of work. He tried to come in with fastball off the plate and then when he missed, the next pitch out over the plate. They made some pretty solid contact. Like first pitch to Eric Chavez in the second inning, out over the plate. He bangs it off the wall. When you let them get their arms extended, they really do some damage.

Felt like I had pretty good stuff, Buchholz said. Just a team thats going to make you throw strikes and work the count and thats what they did. I got deep into a couple of counts with a couple of guys and I had to throw strikes. I didn't want to walk everybody. So they put the bat on the ball a couple of situations and that was it.

Including his first start of the season, in Texas, Buchholz has given up five home runs in 10 innings, with a 7.20 ERA.

The ball that I gave up today that was a good strike curve ball, Buchholz said. Martin stayed back on it and got some good wood on it and hit it out. That team, they got a lot of thump in that lineup. Cant pitch around everybody. The last two teams we faced, the Rangers, theres a lot of power in that lineup.

But Buchholz has been no worse than any other Red Sox starter. Combined, the rotation has posted an ERA of 7.46, giving up 34 earned runs (35 total) over 41
innings. The five starters have a cumulative WHIP of 21.22, a 5.49 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio, 4.39 walks-per-nine, and a 1.25 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Ironically, only John Lackey (1-1) has recorded a win. Ironically because he pitched a sloppy game against the Yankees in the home opener Friday and was bailed out by the bullpen for his first win. Lackey is the biggest culprit contributing to the rotations ERA, with a far-too-robust ERA of 15.58. But none have pitched particularly well yet. Only Jon Lester (no decisions in two starts, 3.65 ERA), who went seven scoreless innings against in Cleveland Thursday, has posted a quality start.

I dont mean just today but were walking some people and theres a lot of deep counts, Francona said. All the things that we talk about that we want to do is being done to us right now. Were getting some early exits and were asking a lot of our bullpen, especially early in the season.

Despite the lack of success by the starting pitching, Francona doesnt see his pitchers feeling pressured.

I dont think we go into a game pressing, he said. I think we didnt do well enough today. We got a pretty veteran team. They all certainly want to do well, as I do. But sometimes the other team has something to do with it, too.

Were not even two turns through the rotation. I dont think its been a very good first time-and-a-half through the rotation. I agree with that. I dont think were going to pack it in. We need to try and get better. I agree with that. I think we all feel that way.

With pitching coach Curt Young new to the team and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia still getting familiar with the pitchers, it could be that all parties are still trying to get on the same page.

Thats not why we have high pitch counts, Francona said. Were certainly always trying to learn about people, especially some of the new guys. But its just a matter of executing right now and against a team like this you got to execute very well or theyll make you pay for it.

"I think we have to trust our staff and just go out and do it. Keep pitching," Saltalamacchia said. "Curt's new but he's got great stuff. He's really a student of pitching. He does a great job with scouting reports. There's no reason we should be going through stuff like this."

Buchholz also downplayed that possibility.

I dont think so, he said. When you get in a rhythm throughout the season it might take a little bit longer sometimes than it did the year before or two years before. Getting on the same page with everybody as far as pitcher-catcher, I mean Curts brought in quite a bit of knowledge to us, or to me in general. I dont think it has anything to do with that. Its just a matter of going out there and executing pitches like we did last year.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (who is 6-for-9 with three runs score and five RBI in the series) was much more succinct in his assessment.

Weve got to pitch better, he said. The Yankees have a great offense. But its tough to give up a lot of runs. Its tough to score 10, you know what I mean?

Josh Beckett will be opposed by New Yorks CC Sabathia Sunday night. This would be as good time as any for the erstwhile ace to be the one to stop the bleeding.

Its a game thats early in the year and theyre all meaningful, Francona said. We never try to downplay them. I dont care who were playing against. Thats why were here. But I would never try to downplay it now or in September or anytime. We want to win them all.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia was focused on winning, not streak

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-3 win over the Royals:

QUOTES

“I hadn’t really thought about it. Trying to win games. It’s late in the year . . . I don’t really have time to sit back and pat myself on the back for anything. We’re trying to win as a team.” - Dustin Pedroia on the importance of the 11-for-11 stretch in his career.

“It’s fun. It’s why you go to work in December, January, February. It’s all the work you put in up to this point. It feels good to go out there and get the results you expect to get, especially against a team like [the Royals] who is hot as they are right now.” - David Price on pitching meaningful games with a playoff-like atmosphere.

“Yeah, yeah we [knew about the streak] . . .  It was an awesome roll and it was fun to see . . . Every time I went up to hit, I let Salvador Perez know.” - Xander Bogaerts on Dustin Pedroia’s 11-for-11 streak.

“I think we’ve been able to handle velocity very well. We’ve got good bat-speed in out lineup, and we’re able to handle that.” - John Farrell on the offense thriving against good pitching.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz played in his 1,000th game at Fenway Park, becoming the fifth player to do so.

* Ortiz also became the first player ever to play 2,000 games as the designated hitter.

* Mookie Betts scored his 100th run of the season off his 29th home run of the year, joining Fred Lynn, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams as the only players to reach 100 runs before turning 24.

* The Red Sox hit back-to-back home runs for the fourth time this season with Betts and Hanley Ramirez going yard in the fifth.

* With his 2-for-4 day at the plate, Jackie Bradley Jr. improved to 34-for-94 (.362) batting ninth.

 

STARS

1) Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia finished 4-for-5, extending his streak to 11 hits in 11 at-bats, finishing one shy of tying the MLB record.

2) David Price

Price logged his fourth straight quality start with his six-inning, two-run start. He also dropped his ERA below 4.00 for the first time since his Opening Day start with Boston.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez finished 2-for-3 with two home runs. Saturday marked only the second multi-home run game of his career.

First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

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First impressions: Price, Pedroia lead Red Sox to 8-3 win over Royals

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals:

 

David Price has found a groove.

Price finally brought his ERA below 4.00.

He’d been about that mark since his second start of the season. Twenty-six starts later, he finally reached the mark.

Saturday’s start marked Price’s fourth-straight quality start. Price will soon eclipse the 200-strikeout, reaching 186 K’s with his seven-strikeout performance.

Although the lefty hasn’t been at his best throughout much of the year, he’s caught fire of late.

Possibly at the most important part of the season, too.

 

Dustin Pedroia just missed making history, can’t buy an out.

Boston’s second baseman entered Saturday with seven hits in his last seven at-bats. He stretched that streak to 11-for-11 with a 4-for-4 game.

He had the chance to go 12-for-12 in the eighth, but weakly grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

He’s also the first Red Sox player with three straight four-hit games at Fenway Park since 1913.

Boston’s second baseman continues to prove that his struggles in recent years were directly related to injuries, not diminishing performance.

 

The offense passed a big test.

It might’ve appeared that Danny Duffy was a middle-of-the-road pitcher with the way Red Sox hitters tattooed him in Saturday’s win.

But the right only had one loss in 19 starts, with a 2.66 ERA (2.61 as a starter).

Between the long balls and Dustin Pedroia’s incessant ways of late, they ballooned his ERA to 3.01.

A respectable number, still, but a jump of nearly a half of a run.

 

Sandy Leon’s in a minor cold spell.

Possibly the greatest story of Boston’s 2016 offense, Leon hasn’t had too many struggles along the way.

But after finishing 0-for-4 Saturday night, he’s only 2-for-21 (.095) in his last five games.

Saturday also marked only the third time all season where he was held hitless in back-to-back games.

These things happen to everyone, but it was starting to look like Leon didn’t fall under the category of “everyone.”