Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base.

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his five innings, taking 89 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

It remains a work in progress.

There was an understanding that it was going to take time for Hanley Ramirez to grow accustomed to playing his new position, left field. But instances like the one that occurred during the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Orioles Saturday tests the patience of all involved.

It remains a work in progress.

There was an understanding that it was going to take time for Hanley Ramirez to grow accustomed to playing his new position, left field. But instances like the one that occurred during the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Orioles Saturday tests the patience of all involved.

With runners on first and second in the fifth inning, and Clay Buchholz trying to manage a 2-0 deficit against Baltimore, Jimmy Paredes lofted a high fly ball toward the left field wall. With the wind pushing the ball toward the left field line, Ramirez seemed to have the catch lined up.

As the ball arrived at the base of the wall, Ramirez executed what was probably an unnecessary small jump. The outfielder then saw the baseball bounce off the heel of his glove, resulting in a single to load the bases for the Orioles.

This came after Ramirez seemingly pulled up on a ball in the left field corner the inning before (also of Paredes’ bat), ending up as the only extra-base hit allowed by Buchholz. (For video of that play, click here.)

After the game, Ramirez insisted the wall was at least partly to blame.

“It hit the wall and then hit my glove so make sure you see the replay person and ask him about it,’€ he said. (Note: After further review, upon Ramirez’s suggestion, the ball never did touch the wall.)

“There was nothing I could do on that play,” he added. “I jumped and the ball just hit the wall. I went back inside and saw the replay.

“You just have to come back tomorrow and win the game. We’€™re playing pretty good baseball right now. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about.We take everything as a positive Everybody is just happy we’€™re here, we’€™re going to keep working and give 100 percent every game. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about right now.”

After the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell reiterated the evolution of Ramirez’s defensive existence would take some time to get comfortable with.

“We knew it was going to be a transition for him,” he said. “There was going to be work to be done. The wall here is going to be different than what we had the ability to work with in Fort Myers just because of the way it’€™s constructed. To me, there’€™s nothing alarming and the more games played, the more comfortable he’€™s going to get.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

It was hard to tell if the perception of Clay Buchholz was altered Saturday.

The result of the starter’s outing was clearly better than what transpired the last time out, yet much of the six innings in which Buchholz was thick with uneasiness.

It was hard to tell if the perception of Clay Buchholz was altered Saturday.

The result of the starter’s outing was clearly better than what transpired the last time out, yet much of the six innings in which Buchholz was thick with uneasiness.

The end result of Buchholz’ third start of the season was a Red Sox 4-1 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. The righty took the loss, giving up 11 hits and a walk while striking out seven and stranding nine baserunners.

Only one of the hits off Buchholz was of the extra-base variety, and that one — coming off the bat of Jimmy Parades — should have been caught by left fielder Hanley Ramirez.

Despite Buchholz’ ability to escape major damage, his slow pace and reluctance to use his fastball in key spots later in the game (after using it liberally out of the gate) didn’t paint the exact picture the Red Sox were hoping for coming off 3 1/3-inning, 10-run start in New York.

At the end of the day, Buchholz did keep pace with Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who cruised through much of his 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed one run on six hits.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Tillman. The Orioles hurler kept the Red Sox off-balance for much of his outing. In 17 starts against the Red Sox, the righty has now allowed more than three runs just twice.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Red Sox first real chance against Tillman came in the third inning with runners on first and third and two outs. But Dustin Pedroia couldn’t quite beat out his slow roller down the third base line, making the second baseman 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position for the season. The Red Sox had secured the runners on base thanks to a Xander Bogaerts’ walk (giving the Sox most free passes in the majors, 49) and another Brock Holt single.

– The next solid chance the Red Sox had came in the fourth, with David Ortiz standing at third with two outs (thanks to his second single of the game). But Mike Napoli continued to struggle, flying out to second. Napoli — who is 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position — did manage a single in his next at-bat.

– Ramirez continued to play left field (to be kind) cautiously. In this case it led to the Orioles’ first run, with Ramirez allowing Parades’ fly ball bounce in the corner. With two runners on with nobody out, Baltimore managed to plate a pair thanks to a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop and single. Ramirez would make another subpar play in the fifth, dropping a fly ball at the base of the left field wall.

– Pedroia stranded five runners, striking out twice. Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Daniel Nava also went hitless.

– Robbie Ross Jr. allowed Chris Davis his second home run of the season, with the Orioles first baseman launching a two-run blast over the left field wall to give the visitors some breathing room heading into the bottom of the ninth.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Buchholz got out of what could have been a disastrous situation, facing the bases loaded and just one out in what had already become a two-run fourth inning. But after striking out Alejandro De Aza on a well-placed change-up, and Steve Pearce on an 89 mph cutter, the starter got out of what resulted in a 31-pitch inning.

– The righty did it again in the following inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out jam. In this case, Buchholz induced a 3-2-3 double play and a Ryan Flaherty strikeout to end the frame.

– The Red Sox were finally able to get to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman in the sixth inning, with David Ortiz managing his third hit of the game, a line-drive double to right field, to kick things off. Ortiz was ultimately plated when Tillman mishandled a slow roller off the bat of Sandoval.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Looks like Shane Victorino did pay a price for going after that fly ball in right field Friday night.

Victorino was scratched an hour before Saturday’s game with sore ribs. He was replaced in right field by Daniel Nava, batting seventh.

The Victorino situation appeared encouraging at the start of the day when the outfielder was in the starting lineup, one day after he had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right. Victorino made a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night.

He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and was penciled in the lineup for Saturday before the late scratch.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the adjusted lineup for the Red Sox:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

For as red hot as Mookie Betts was to start the homestand and the season, he has cooled off quite a bit in the last three days. He’s is hitless in his last seven at-bats and just 4-for-17 on the homestand. His average has slipped to .209 on the season and facing a tough right-hander in Chris Tillman, with a heavy sinker and good breaking ball, doesn’t figure to be the right medicine to get him better at the plate fast.

Enter Brock Holt. The super utility man made his fourth start Saturday, including his second in center. Holt is also 3-for-5 against Tillman while Betts is 1-for-6.

“A way to get Brock in the lineup,” Farrell said. “He has swung the bat well in limited looks against Tillman and our goal, and my personal goal, is to get Brock [in the lineup] and keep him in the mix as much as possible. That’s his role. We try to do that to the best of our abilities and as frequent as possible. We also have a very deep roster. He accepts his role. He excels at it, and the versatility he provides is a real good fit, given David is our everyday DH on our team.

“I think we’ve seen that so far. He’s hit first. He’s hit seventh. He’s hit ninth. What really stood out last year with Brock is that when we put him in a new position he had never played before, he embraced it. He didn’t make too much of it, in terms of the fact that he didn’t have any previous experience there. It wasn’t any big deal to him. It’s almost the same way he goes about his approach at the plate, regardless of his spot in the order.”

As for Betts, Farrell said he’s still very happy with the way the second-year outfielder is swinging the bat of late.

“He’s squared up some balls that have gone for naught and his approach at the plate hasn’t changed,” Farrell said. “His batting average isn’t the reason why he’s not in the lineup today. This is a matchup I like the way it suits us. Mookie has hit into some tough luck at times. That was more evident in the Phillies series. Still, he is our center fielder.”

The Red Sox are also facing a pitcher in Tillman who controls the bases when runners do get on.

“He does a great job of controlling the running game,” Farrell said. “When you look at the combination of pitches he does have, a guy with a sinking fastball and a good top-to-bottom curveball is a rare combination so he’s unique in that way. He’s pitched for a team that has had airtight defense. So that the combination of all that makes him a pretty complete pitcher.”

Speaking of the running game, the Red Sox used an aggressive jump from second base from Mike Napoli in the ninth inning to score the winning run on Xander Bogaerts’ single Friday night.

“It’s a daily thing, whether it’s through our meetings in the morning to the actual drill work we do on the field,” Farrell said. “It’s a clear controllable that we have so the detail, the emphasis and what’s important to us, that’s stressed daily. And it’s acknowledged in the dugout each and every game when certain examples come up. If a player runs into an out because it’s a good, aggressive decision on his part, yet it doesn’t work, we still have to applaud it and support it.”

Bogaerts has been the flip side of Betts of late. He entered Saturday 4-for-11 on the first four games of the homestand. He recorded the first hit of the night with a sharp grounder over the third base bag in the fifth in front of Ryan Hanigan’s game-tying homer. In the ninth, he allowed the pitch to travel deeper into his hands and went to right field for the game-winner. He became the youngest Red Sox player with a walk-off RBI since a 22-year-old Jim Rice singled home Denny Doyle on July 31, 1975.

“He’s just been a little bit more relaxed at the plate, letting the ball travel a little bit deeper into the strike zone,” Farrell said. “It’s allowed him to use the whole field a little bit more, which is more the norm of what he’s always been as a hitter. He’s in a confident place right now.”

Baseball America reported Saturday that the Red Sox had signed 42-year-old journeyman outfielder Danny Bautista to a minor league deal after playing most recently in the Mexican League. Bautista won a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001 when they beat the Yankees in seven games. Bautista batted .583 in the Series, the fifth-highest all-time in a single World Series. This was news to John Farrell before Saturday’s game.

“We may have. I’m unaware of it right now,” Farrell said.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia