BRADENTON, Fla. — After a disastrous Saturday of baseball (dropping two to the Orioles in a pair of uninspired performances), the Red Sox got back going down the right road Sunday against the Pirates, claiming a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh. Highlighting the afternoon was the performance of Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz turned in a solid performance in his second outing of the spring, facing the minimum nine batters over three innings. The righty pounded the bottom half of the strike zone, getting five of his first six outs on the ground thanks to an improved two-seam fastball.
The starter finished his stint throwing 27 pitches after making 40 pitches in the bullpen leading up to the outing.
“Felt definitely a little better than I did last time out,” Buchholz said. “I was able to locate, basically look at the two-seamer for the first time in the first and second inning. Then I felt like I needed to work on a couple more pitches. But I felt good, felt like the direction and the movement and everything was there. I didn’t ever try to overthrow, that’s where I need to be right now.”
Buchholz added, “Nothing awkward feeling or anything. I don’t feel like I’m compensating for anything so I feel right at home right now.”
“He’s not as sharp, I’m sure, as he’d like to be but that was a good outing for the stuff he had,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross. “He kind of got better as the game went, too, his stuff started to move better. He kind of gets up and down in the bullpen the second time up in the bullpen, his stuff started to get sharper, breaking ball was good, didn’t use it much, change-up we didn’t use at all today, I don’t think he had a feel for that but when you can pitch with sinker cutter, mainly sinkers, that’s what he’s pitching with ‘ that’s the thing, he’s a veteran pitcher, and understands how to use his sinker. Some of the young guys, that’s the main thing, you’ve got to learn to pitch with fastball command, it makes everything else better.”
Jordy Mercer served as the only Pirates batter to reach against Buchholz, drawing a third-inning walk. Mercer was promptly sent to the bench, however, being gunned down trying to steal by Ross.
“He’s obviously a smart receiver, smart catcher,” said Buchholz of Ross. “You can take some of the stress of you to have to battle with yourself or battle with the catcher whenever you trust in somebody that’s back there. You can trust in the pitches he’s calling, how he’s reading the hitter and how he’s reading the pitcher’s delivery and everything. He makes the game a little more fluid and obviously if you have trust more in your catcher you’ll have trust more in your pitches and be able to throw them whenever you want.”
Andrew Miller came on after the Sox’ starter and struck out the side in the fourth. Cuban Dalier Hinojosa followed up the lefty by retiring all six of his batters. Rubby De La Rosa struggled somewhat in relief, allowing a run on four hits over two innings. Francisco Cordero closed things out with a flawless ninth.
Mike Carp highlighted the offense, leading off the third inning with a homer to right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. also contributed with a two-out, two run single.
In other news …
- John Farrell announced before the game that the hope is to have Grady Sizemore participate in his first back-to-back games of the spring, playing Monday and Tuesday.
- The plan is to have Shane Victorino — who has been battling back problems from the outset of camp — make his debut for this spring either Monday or Tuesday.