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Clay Buchholz thought he would be gone from Red Sox, but Dave Dombrowski had other ideas

08.24.16 at 2:09 am ET
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Clay Buchholz has been on quite a roll. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz has been on quite a roll. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was a good moment for Clay Buchholz.

The Red Sox starter not only could revel in his 6 1/3-inning, one-run outing against the Rays Tuesday night, but he could do so while passing on the good news to his family, which was back home in Texas. (Buchholz’s daughter had just started kindergarten the day before.) And he was living this life while sitting at the familiar Tropicana Field visiting clubhouse locker, one he had inhabited for the majority of his time visiting as a Red Sox.

Considering his success at the home of the Rays (3-0 with a 0.54 ERA in his last five Tropicana Field starts), the scene was a familiar one for Buchholz.

Yet, as he admitted after the Red Sox’ 2-1 win, it was a moment he didn’t think would be presenting itself by the time Aug. 23 game around. At least not in a Boston uniform.

“No. I don’t think so,” Buchholz said when asked if he thought he would be pitching in a Red Sox uniform by the time Aug. 23 came around. “I wasn’t really worried about it because I know what I can do on a baseball field. I’ve done it for a long time. Sometimes you struggle and the game forces you to make adjustments that you didn’t necessarily know you needed to make. There were a couple of adjustments I needed to make. The bullpen scenario, that actually helped me out with it. Just sort of dumb it down and not overthink things I was overthinking at the time. Just try and have fun with it again rather it be a chore every time you step out there.”

But there was Buchholz, still wearing the gray and reds. For that, he could the approach taken by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski heading into the non-waiver trade deadline.

“We just felt his stuff was good enough to pitch at the big league level and be successful,” Dombrowski said. “It’s hard to find good big league pitchers, and he has that type of stuff. We knew we needed protection in case we had an injury. We didn’t have anybody else to protect us. So that combination was important. He’s been successful at the big league level, and our guys here had seen him be successful. We just felt he could do it again.

“We weren’t really looking to move him. You listen on anybody, but we weren’t looking to move him.”

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David Ortiz on Mookie Betts’ throw: ‘One of the best I’ve ever seen’

08.23.16 at 11:32 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — One out. Eighth inning. Tying run at the plate. Red Sox outfielder saves the day with a spectacular play. Sound familiar?

One night after Andrew Benintendi’s catch robbed Steven Souza Jr. of a home run, and the Rays the chance to draw within a run in the eighth, it was Mookie Betts’ turn to make his mark.

With the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, reliever Brad Ziegler allowed Kevin Kiermaier to rip a line drive down the first-base line and into the right-field corner. With Kiermaier, one of the game’s fastest players, racing around the bases, Betts calmly took the carom off the padding, scooped up the ball and fired it toward third baseman Travis Shaw.

“Wow. That was unbelievable. One of the best I’ve ever seen,” Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said after his team’s 2-1 win Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. “And you might think it was probably a bad [baserunning] play, but if that throw wasn’t that perfect he would have been safe. I think he did that right thing. I didn’t know he was that fast. Wow, that kid can fly. But that throw was perfect. It was unbelievable.”

Said Kiermaier: “Just kind of shock over there at third base how I got thrown out. I watched the video after the game, and saw he made an absolutely perfect throw. … I always want to put the pressure on defense, and it’s going to take a perfect throw to throw me out. In this moment, he made an absolutely perfect throw. I would not change anything. I’d do it again. I tip my hat to him.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz continues resurgence in Red Sox’ win over Rays

08.23.16 at 10:19 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz turned in a gem against the Rays Tuesday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz turned in a gem against the Rays on Tuesday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wondering why the Red Sox have won 10 of their last 12, while going 7-2 on the current road trip? Clay Buchholz offered a pretty powerful explanation Tuesday night.

The fill-in starter kept his good times going, this time holding the Rays to just a run over 6 1/3 innings in leading the Red Sox to a 2-1 win at Tropicana Field. Since July 27, Buchholz has totaled a 1.96 ERA, this time managing nine strikeouts along the way.

But this isn’t anything out of the norm for this team while plowing through four cities in the last nine days. The Red Sox starters have now managed a 2.45 ERA on the current trip, and that’s with Henry Owens’ eight-run misstep Sunday. In fact, just two times on the swing Sox starters have given up more than one run.

As for Buchholz, he officially has become one of the Red Sox’ most important pitchers. In his three starts filling in for the injured Steven Wright, the righty has managed a 2.70 ERA.

This time, the Sox starter finished with 94 pitches, the most he’s thrown since June 26. It put Buchholz’s record at 3-0 with an 0.54 ERA in his last five starts at Tropicana Field.

“I was always told the worm turns at some point,” the starter said. “Everybody that’s playing at this level is a good ballplayer and is here for a reason. I take pride in what I do. Good or bad, I try to know what’s going on. In this organization, doing a little bit bad is doing really bad because you hear about it from everywhere. I’ve learned to deal with that. I know I’m going to have some good outings and some bad outings, but I feel like these last two starts, I’m going forward now instead of staying in the same spot or moving backwards.”

With the win the Red Sox remain in a first-place tie with Toronto, which claimed a 7-2 win over the Angels. The Sox improved to a season-high 17 games over .500, their highest point since ending the 2013 season at 97-65.

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The Tropicana Field table that saved Andrew Benintendi

08.23.16 at 8:50 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Much of the talk in and around the Red Sox clubhouse Monday night and Tuesday involved the great catch made by Andrew Benintendi. In case you aren’t familiar, take a look …

But, as Benintendi explained after the Red Sox win, the only reason he was able to brace himself and bounce back onto the playing surface was due to a well-placed table.

Here is that table:

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Red Sox notes: Steven Wright ready to go for Friday’s start; Eduardo Rodriguez aces simulated game; Koji Uehara surprisingly ‘aggressive’

08.23.16 at 6:50 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The last we saw Steven Wright on the mound (and not the basepaths), he was pitching a complete-game shutout Aug. 5 against the Dodgers.

The bad news for the knuckleballer is that he isn’t expecting the feel of that outing at Dodger Stadium to carry over to his start Friday night at Fenway Park against the Royals.

“It was so long ago there really is no momentum,” Wright said. “Usually you try and use that momentum for your next start, five starts later. But that momentum has kind of come and gone. So for me it’s just going out there and not thinking about that last outing because it’s one of those things where it’s not affecting me good or bad. I just have to concentrate on throwing strike one and taking it pitch by pitch.”

The good news for Wright is that he will be pitching again, with the pain in his right shoulder having diminished.

The righty’s latest, and most important, test prior to hitting the mound again came Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field, when he threw a 60-pitch bullpen session that included getting up and down once. It went well enough that Wright was deemed ready to go in the Sox’ series opener vs. Kansas City.

“Obviously see how [Wednesday] goes, but today, to get through that, it’s big,” he said. “It’s still a little achy, but when I get out on the mound it doesn’t really bother me. I think it’s just something from not throwing consistently like I have been. It’s one of those things you have to get through. Kind of like it is at the beginning of spring training. But I don’t think it will take me as long, just because I’ve been throwing.”

With Wright moving back into the starting rotation, the assumption is that Clay Buchholz will slide back to the bullpen. Prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Rays, which Buchholz started, Red Sox manager John Farrell was non-committal regarding the pitcher’s specific role as a reliever.

“When his role ultimately changes, to be determined yet, but he has increased his responsibility and confidence in himself has certainly increased since he’s gone to the bullpen and now with his third start here [Tuesday],” Farrell said.

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Red Sox lineup vs. Rays: Andrew Benintendi once again in starting lineup after catch of year

08.23.16 at 3:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox look to stay hot vs. the Rays on Tuesday night, with Clay Buchholz on the mound.

The Sox have won six of eight on this potentially season-defining road trip. Monday’s victory over the Rays was made possible in large part by rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who robbed Steven Souza of a two-run homer in the eighth with a tremendous leaping catch, chronicled by Rob Bradford.

Benintendi is once again in the starting lineup, this time in left, batting ninth, against Rays starter Chris Archer, who is attempting to avoid his 17th loss of the season.

Here’s the lineup.

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Travis Shaw 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF

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Red Sox prospect Josh Ockimey looks to beat shift, finish breakout season strong

08.23.16 at 2:07 pm ET
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Josh Ockimey

Josh Ockimey

By the time the first half of the season came to a close, Single-A Greenville first baseman Josh Ockimey was putting up some of the best numbers in the South Atlantic League.

Through 61 games, the 20-year-old was batting .297, with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs to boot. He had an impressive .435 on-base percentage and was named a league All-Star. He managed to become the 10th-ranked Red Sox prospect at MLB.com after being ranked 16th at the start of the season.

Selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia, Ockimey began to demand attention thanks to his power at the plate. His 16 home runs are fifth most in the league, and MLB.com says that the left-handed batter has “some of the best raw power among Red Sox farmhands.”

Ockimey, who blasted a 420-foot home run at Fenway Park during a pre-draft workout two years ago, said he’s never really had difficulty showcasing his strength on the offensive end.

“I’ve always been naturally able to generate power,” Ockimey said. “I just try to square the ball up, and if you get that done, it’s part of it.”

The success at the plate came to a screeching halt, however, once opposing teams started to use a shift on the pull-happy Ockimey. He’s averaging a measly .149 in the second half, including .151 in July. It didn’t help that he had more strikeouts in July than any other month.

“He really used the left side of the field well early on, middle of the field well early on,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. “Then all of a sudden, teams started pounding him in and he got beat in a little bit, so he started looking in. It’s just been a back-and-forth of him kind of just getting back to the middle of the field.”

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Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: Marco Hernandez hits go-ahead homer for PawSox; Bobby Dalbec a double short of cycle for Lowell

08.23.16 at 10:17 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (67-61): W, 2-1, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)

— With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning, Marco Hernandez came through, with his go-ahead home run giving the PawSox the win. It was his fifth minor league home run of the season.

“He’s got great impact to his pull side,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles told MiLB.com. “He’s been a spark plug for us.”

Hernandez, who went 3-for-4, has hit the ball out of the park in his last two home games. The 23-year-old is slashing .308/.344/.449 in 55 games.

— Brian Johnson performed well in the start, limiting Syracuse to one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He fanned five and walked three.

“I’ve just been keeping it simple,” Johnson said. “I’ve been attacking the glove and going pitch to pitch.”

In his last five starts, Johnson has accumulated a 1.76 ERA after sporting a 5.25 ERA at one point this season. Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com now has a 3.19 ERA to go along with a 5-6 record in 17 minor league starts.

— Ryan Lamarre joined Hernandez as the only other PawSox player to collect multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. He crossed home plate on a passed ball in the second inning after drilling his 15th double of the season and advancing to third on a ground ball. Lamarre, 27, has hit safely in his last seven games. He is now batting .300/.371/.430 in 76 minor league games.

— Joe Kelly picked up his second minor league save thanks to two shutout innings. He struck out four in the impressive outing. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 0.69 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances with the PawSox. Overall, he is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 17 outings.

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Read More: Bobby Dalbec, Brandon Workman, brian johnson, daniel zandona

Video: Red Sox draft pick Jason Groome makes pro debut with 2 shutout innings

08.23.16 at 9:57 am ET
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Red Sox first-round draft pick Jason Groome made his professional debut Monday, pitching two shutout innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in a 6-3 victory over the Rays’ GCL affiliate. As shown in the video above (courtesy Jeanie Verderese) the 6-foot-6 left-hander from New Jersey allowed just one baserunner (on an opposite-field double to left with two outs in the second) while striking out three. He threw 30 pitches, 18 for strikes.

Groome, who turns 18 Tuesday, was selected with the 12th pick of the draft.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Archer

08.23.16 at 9:40 am ET
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In the second game of a four-game series against division rival Tampa Bay, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound to go up against Rays righty Chris Archer.

Buchholz, who is filling in for the injured Steven Wright, sits at 4-9 with a 5.42 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He has made two consecutive starts after stringing together some successful outings coming out of the bullpen. In his last start, the 32-year-old held the Tigers to one run on six hits through six innings of work in a 4-3 Red Sox loss on Thursday. He struck out three and walked none.

“I felt good, I went with out of the stretch the whole start, less moving parts for me, just things I’ve been working on,” Buchholz said. “I feel like that keeps me over the rubber a little bit longer and enables me to command a little bit better.”

This will be the first outing against Tampa for Buchholz. The right-hander has faced the Rays 20 times in his 10-year career, totaling an 8-7 record with a 2.63 ERA. He last faced the division rival May 4 of last season, when he gave up five runs on nine hits through 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 Boston loss.

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