The Red Sox will begin their final homestand of the season against the Rays on Tuesday night. Clay Buchholz will pitch against Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb.
Buchholz (8-9, 5.29 ERA) was roughed up in his last outing last Wednesday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. In four innings, the right-hander allowed six hits and four runs in the loss — his first defeat in six starts.
The Pirates got to Buchholz in the first inning with a Gregory Polanco home run. After a Mike Napoli error in the second, Pittsburgh used four consecutive hits to add three more runs. Neil Walker added the final run off Buchholz with a solo home run in the third.
“He made some mistakes against some good hitters. Ran into some hittable counts and they took advantage of him,” pitching coach Juan Nieves said of Buchholz after the loss.
Buchholz finished the first half of the year with an abysmal 5.42 ERA and a 4-5 record. But in four starts before the one against the Pirates, Buchholz had a 3-0 record and a 2.10 ERA. One of those appearances included a six-strikeout shutout against the same Rays team he’ll face Tuesday. Buchholz used pinpoint accuracy with his fastball to dominate the Rays at Tropicana Field on Aug. 31.
“He was hitting all the spots, every pitch,” catcher Christian Vazquez said. “He was painting every pitch. He was pitching to his best, and it was easy for me.”
The start in Florida was Buchholz’s only start against the Rays this season. Over his career, Buchholz has handled Tampa Bay’s top hitters, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist, well. In 36 at-bats, Zobrist is hitting just .111 against Buchholz, while Longoria has seven hits in 41 career plate appearances.
Cobb (9-8 2.82 ERA) has been a bright spot in a down year for the Rays. In his previous start, though, he took a hard-luck loss against the Yankees last Wednesday. He allowed three runs over six innings of work but came away on the wrong end because the Tampa Bay hitters could not come through.
The right-hander has stepped up over the last two months in the wake of the David Price trade to the Tigers. After a 1.49 ERA month in August, Cobb has a 1.77 ERA and .084 WHIP in September. His 2.82 ERA is the best of any Tampa Bay pitcher with at least 10 starts this season.
Cobb’s only start against the Red Sox came during Buchholz’s complete game. The 27-year-old pitched well, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings, but took the loss. Vazquez and fellow rookie Mookie Betts drove in both runs.
Cobb has pitched well against most of the current Red Sox hitters, as the offense has a combined .236 average against Cobb. Daniel Nava, however, has a .294 average in 18 plate appearances against the right-hander.
Rays vs. Buchholz (RHP)
Ben Zobrist (42 career plate appearances): .111 average/.238 OBP/.139 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (41): .189/.268/.270, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts
Matt Joyce (30): .280/.367/.360, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks, 2 RBIs, 2 doubles
Jose Molina (27): .320/.333/.360, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Yunel Escobar (24): .158/.304/.316, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 4 walks, 1 strikeout
Desmond Jennings (20): .235/.278/.294, 1 double, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Sean Rodriguez (15): .231/.214/.308, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts
David DeJesus (14): .364/.500/.455, 1 double, 3 walks, 1 strikeout
James Loney (11): .111/.273/.111, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Brandon Guyer (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Kevin Kiermaier (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Logan Forsythe (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Red Sox vs. Cobb (RHP)
Daniel Nava (18): .294/.333/.353, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 2 strikeouts
Yoenis Cespedes (16): .125/.125/.125, 4 strikeouts
Mike Napoli (15): .250/.400/.417, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
David Ortiz (14): .125/.500/.125, 1 RBI, 6 walks, 1 strikeout
Will Middlebrooks (13): .167/.231/.167, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jemile Weeks (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts
Jackie Bradley (5): .200/.200/.400, 2 strikeouts, 1 double
Ryan Lavarnway (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Mookie Betts (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI
Xander Bogaerts (3): .667/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 strikeout
Brock Holt (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
David Ross (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Christian Vazquez is 1-for-2 with an RBI against Cobb.