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

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.

Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell chose Saturday to give Mookie Betts his second off day of the season.

Starting in center Saturday in place of Betts will be Mr. Super Sub, Brock Holt, getting his second start in center this season and leading off. In addition to two starts in center, Holt has started one game at short and one at third base.

The rest of the lineup remains basically in tact, including right fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat seventh.

The Victorino news is encouraging after the outfielder had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right, making 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 apparently had no ill effects overnight.

Ryan Hanigan will catch right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was beaten up by the Yankees in his last start last Sunday in New York. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Chris Tillman.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

In the second game of this battle for the top of the AL East, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz out to the mound Saturday while the Orioles opt for Chris Tillman.

Buchholz got the ball in the first game of the season and put together a scoreless seven innings, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and one walk. His second start didn’t go as well, to say the least. The lanky righty started the final game the Sox’ series with the Yankees last weekend and only lasted 3 1/3 innings. He gave up nine runs, seven of which came in the first inning, and allowed nine hits and two walks, striking out three.

With the result, Buchholz has a 7.84 ERA through his two outings, but he said he’s “not going to let one start affect the way [he feels] about the year that [the Sox] are going to have or how [he feels].”

“He came out and tried to use all his pitches from the get-go, and at times looked to pitch a little too fine,” manager John Farrell added after Buchholz’s outing. “The walks along with some balls that were well placed. They squared a couple pitches up, and before you know it, it’s a seven-run inning. I know he warmed up sharp. I know he warmed up with all his pitches being executed. It was a different story once he got to the mound.”

Buchholz has 100 1/3 innings of experience against the Orioles, registering 16 starts against them with a 9-4 record. He has a 3.86 ERA when facing the O’s and has pitched three complete games against them as well, more than any other individual team he’s seen.

In his six previous seasons in the MLB, Tillman has just as many starts against the Sox as Buchholz has against Baltimore, though he’s pitched 10 fewer innings and has recorded a 7-3 mark in that time. His 2.69 ERA against Boston is his sixth best in terms of specific opponent splits.

However, he is currently toting a season ERA of 7.71 as he was guilty of posting similar starts to Buchholz in his first two campaigns. Against the Rays on April 6, Tillman managed 6 2/3 innings of four-hit, one-run ball with four strikeouts and three walks. His next start, however, went just about as well as Buchholz’s. In 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays, Tillman surrendered seven runs on as many hits and gave up three walks to just one strikeout.

Orioles vs. Buchholz (RHP)

Adam Jones (36 plate appearances): .207 AVG/.257 OBP/.517 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Travis Snider (18): .059/.111/.059, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts

Alejandro De Aza (14): .308/.357/.385, 1 double, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Ryan Flaherty (13): .250/.308/.250, 3 strikeouts

Delmon Young (9): .111/.111/.111, 2 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Manny Machado (6): .400/.500/.600, 1 double, 1 walk

Jonathan Schoop (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI

Steve Pearce (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Steve Clevenger (2): .500/.500/1.000, 1 double, 1 RBI

Red Sox vs. Tillman (RHP)

Dustin Pedroia (39 plate appearances): .286 AVG/.333 OBP/.343 SLG, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (36): .258/.361/.387, 4 doubles, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts

David Ortiz (32): .111/.250/.222, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (26): .273/.385/.364, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts

Xander Bogaerts (16): .143/.250/.357, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Shane Victorino (12): .364/.417/.636, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Mookie Betts (7): .167/.286/.167, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Ryan Hanigan (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 walk

Brock Holt (5): .600/.600/.600, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Pablo Sandoval (4): .333/.500/.667, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Allen Craig (3): .333/.333/.333

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly had a strong outing Friday night allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 3-2 walk-off win over the Orioles.

Most pitchers would be pleased with that as their second outing of the year, but not Kelly.

He wants to be better.

“It was a grind,” Kelly said of the game. “Good hitting team and they were fouling off some pretty good pitches tonight. I was around the zone. I felt pretty good with my stuff. Like I said, they had a good game plan and a good approach. Put together some pretty good at-bats. I was just happy to keep the team close today. [Ryan Hanigan] came up big and our defense came up big too to keep the game close.”

Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three. The issue was he threw 118 pitches, two shy of a career-high, and didn’t make it to the sixth inning. Baltimore’s hitters made him work, working counts and fouling off a number of pitches to drive his pitch count up.

“€œHe had great stuff,” manager John Farrell said. “They did a good job of staying within the strike zone, not chasing some fastballs just off the edge. A number of foul balls that run the pitch, or run some deeper counts. I thought once he got into the fifth inning he started to use his curve ball a little bit more to slow some hitters down. He still maintained his stuff throughout the 118 pitches thrown. Probably a little bit more than I would have liked to take him tonight but still he kept his power throughout.”

In the sixth inning the lead off man, Steve Pearce, reached on an error. Then he retired the next two batters before walking Chris Davis. With two on and two out Farrell didn’t take any chances with Kelly at 118 pitches and called upon Edward Mujica, who struck out Manny Machado to get out of the jam.

Even over the 100-pitch mark, Kelly was hitting 96 MPH on his fastball consistently. Earlier in the game he hit 100 MPH twice. His fastball isn’t his only pitch. In his first start of the year against the Yankees, Kelly threw his slider 18 times, getting swing and misses on it on 11 of the 12 times he threw it for a strike.

Friday was a different story, as he didn’t get the same results. According to Brooksbaseball.net, Kelly threw the slider 15 times, but only for eight strikes, and one swing and miss. 12 of the 15 pitches came in the first three innings, and then he went away from it after he saw he wasn’t getting as good of success with it as last Saturday in New York.

Especially coming off a spring training where he dealt with a bicep injury, going 118 pitches in the second start of the year and maintaining the velocity he did is a positive sign for the 26-year-old, who many have said has the best “stuff” in the rotation.

“Oh yeah, of course,” Kelly said of being pleased throwing 118 pitches. “I am one of those guys when I am out there kind of have the blood in my eyes. I’m a fierce competitor. I don’t even know how many pitches [I’ve thrown]. As long as I am feeling good I like to go out there and pitch for my team. I would throw 200 pitches if I had to. It’s something I didn’t really look at or notice. It’s something you don’t want to worry about as a pitcher.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable