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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz’s poor outing dooms Red Sox in blowout loss to Yankees

04.12.15 at 11:32 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday's loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Maybe thinking Clay Buchholz is back to his 2013 pre-injury form was a little premature.

After dominating the Phillies on Opening Day, the Red Sox‘ right-hander struggled out of the gates allowing seven first inning runs (six earned) en route to allowing a career-high 10 runs in the Yankees’ 14-4 win Sunday night to avoid a series sweep.

The Yankees batted around in the first inning as Buchholz allowed a lead off walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, followed by a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Brett Gardner with Ellsbury advancing to third. Carlos Beltran then hit into a fielders choice for the Yankees’ first run. Then, following a Mark Teixeira walk, Brian McCann reached on a Mike Napoli error, as he bobbled the ball on a play going to his right, which loaded the bases.

Alex Rodriguez would clear the bases with a double to left center field, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead, and things would only get worse for Buchholz.

He then allowed back-to-back home runs to Chase Headley and Stephen Drew to close out the first inning scoring.

In a normal situation, without a depleted bullpen following Friday’s 19-inning game and the inability to recall a pitcher, Buchholz may have been removed from the game, but he needed to take some heat off the bullpen. He actually settled down retiring seven of the next eight batters after the first, but struggled again in the fourth, allowing three more runs and thus being removed from the game in the inning.

Buchholz finished by going 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. It was his shortest outing since going just three innings May 26 in Atlanta last season, and he went on the disabled list after the start. It’s also worth mentioning the right-hander failed to back up the bases on a few occasions in the fourth inning.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka breezed through the first three innings, but had trouble in the fourth, throwing 38 pitches and allowing three runs. He finished the night going five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, which was enough to earn the win.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The Yankees’ bats broke out in a big way by totaling 16 hits and were led by Headley, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including the first inning home run.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ second loss of the season:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, hanley ramirez, Masahiro Tanaka

Koji Uehara slated to return as Red Sox closer Monday

04.12.15 at 10:31 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

According to John Farrell, the plan is to have Koji Uehara close out a Red Sox win Monday afternoon at Fenway Park if needed.

Uehara came through his one-inning outing with Single-A Greenville Saturday without any physical issues, although he did allow three hits. So, with the pitcher’s hamstring no longer an issue, the Red Sox feel confident enough to not only activate the righty, but immediately re-insert him as the team’s closer.

The 40-year-old pitched in just three spring training games, allowing runs in two of them.

“Yeah, he came through [Saturday’s] outing fine,” the Red Sox manager told reporters Sunday. “Feels, I think, an increase in confidence after a full game intensity. Everything points to he rejoining us tomorrow.”

The Red Sox will have to clear a roster spot to make room for Uehara, with relievers Tommy Layne and Robbie Ross Jr. the likely candidates since both have options.

The Red Sox have only had one save opportunity to date, with Edward Mujica allowing a ninth-inning solo home run to Chase Headley Friday night to send the eventual 19-inning Sox win into extra innings.

Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino back in against Masahiro Tanaka

04.12.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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With right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the mound for the Yankees Sunday night, Shane Victorino returns to the starting lineup. The right fielder, who has played in three of the Sox’s five games, hits seventh.

With Clay Buchholz going for the Red Sox, this is John Farrell‘s lineup as the Sox attempt to sweep the Yankees in the Bronx:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Shane Victorino RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Ryan Hanigan C

For all the matchups, click here.

Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Masahiro Tanaka

04.12.15 at 8:22 am ET
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The Red Sox will send Opening Day starter Clay Buchholz to the mound Sunday in the series finale against the Yankees as Boston goes for the sweep. He will be matched up against Masahiro Tanaka.

Buchholz gave Red Sox fans a sigh of relief in his first start of 2015. The 30-year-old righty pitched seven shutout innings against the Phillies on the way to his first win of the season. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out nine. On 94 pitches, Buchholz threw 65 strikes and was able to keep many batted balls on the ground. Of balls in play, nine were ground balls, seven were fly balls and four were line drives.

“It was good,” Buchholz told reporters after the game. “There was a lot of building up to this moment. I felt good all spring. It’s just another step, I guess. I was a little more anxious today than I have been for [other] first starts given all the attention to it. After the first couple pitches, it felt like a normal game.”

Throughout the offseason, the Red Sox rotation was criticized for not having a viable ace. Last year Buchholz went 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA and was the fifth starter for most of the season. While one game is not enough of a sample size to predict what will happen the rest of the season, Buchholz looked like the ace the Sox are looking for.

“Mechanically, I’m in a lot better spot,” Buchholz said. “I feel like I’m within my delivery with every pitch. Whenever I come out of it, it’s like … I feel it and I can switch on the next pitch rather than letting it go for an inning and coming in the dugout and having someone say, ‘This is what you’re doing.’ I feel like I know my mechanics better than I did at any point last year. Yeah, it just puts me in a better spot to command and throw strikes.”

In seven career starts in the new Yankee Stadium, Buchholz is 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He made three starts against New York last year, going 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Masahiro Tanaka, Red Sox,

Clay Buchholz was warming up to pitch in Saturday’s Yankees game

04.11.15 at 5:53 pm ET
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NEW YORK — A short note from Saturday’s 8-4 victory over the Yankees: Clay Buchholz was warming to pitch.

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed Buchholz throwing in the bullpen in the latter innings of the victory. And it would be easy to assume that, because Buchholz is Sunday’s listed starter, he was just getting work in before his regular turn.

That would be false.

“I was up to pitch,” Buchholz said. “All hands on deck. (Justin) Masterson and I were both down there. If something happened and the game got out of hand and we were tied and went to extra innings, that’s what I was out there for. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. You’ve got to win today.”

Manager John Farrell said that Masterson actually would’ve entered the game before Buchholz, but that both were available in light of Friday’s 19-inning, bullpen-taxing marathon. Similarly, the Yankees had starter CC Sabathia warming in their pen, too.

“I do that every day before a start, I throw about 10-15 pitches off a mound with a catcher on the plate,” Buchholz said. “That’s my routine. But today I pushed it back a little bit in case I needed to get out there and throw a couple of innings. My routine wasn’t messed up at all.”

The real question is who would’ve started Sunday in Buchholz’s absence. Buchholz maintained that he would’ve liked a chance to record a save on one day and a win the next, but recognized that probably wasn’t happening.

Because of the 10-day rule on players optioned to the minors, the Red Sox wouldn’t have been able to summon a starter from Pawtucket who got demoted at the end of spring training, meaning they’d potentially have needed to turn to a non-roster pitcher for the spot start while simultaneously clearing room on the 40-man roster.

Thankfully for all involved, it didn’t come to that.

Closing Time: Joe Kelly dominates, reserves shine as Red Sox down Yankees

04.11.15 at 4:21 pm ET
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Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees

Joe Kelly dominated the Yankees on Saturday during seven, one-hit innings. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Talk about a situation fraught with peril.

Just hours after burning through their entire bullpen in Friday’s 19-inning victory that was also the longest game (6:49) in franchise history, the Red Sox sent Joe Kelly to the mound unsure if he’d even give them five innings.

Making his first start of the season after talking his way out of a final rehab appearance, Kelly topped those modest expectations by a country mile, silencing the Yankees over seven one-hit innings. He walked two, struck out eight, and allowed just one run in an 8-4 victory that was every bit as inspiring as the previous night’s marathon.

“Coming out like that against this team, to be able to execute with the lower pitch count and get through seven, that was huge for us, man,” said catcher Ryan Hanigan. “Once he gets the ball rolling and gets some momentum and starts feeling it, he’s tough. That was a good start for us, for sure.”

Featuring a fastball with tremendous movement that routinely topped 95 mph, Kelly dominated on a day when the Red Sox desperately needed it, sparing the bullpen further torment.

He had originally been scheduled to start in Single A Greenville on Saturday in a tuneup before coming off the disabled list with a biceps injury. But after throwing 78 pitches in a rehab start on Monday and coming out of his bullpen later in the week feeling strong, Kelly proved to manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves that he was ready to go.

“As well as he threw the ball, it looked like he was ready,” Farrell said. “And that wasn’€™t just me but it was Juan, it was Dana (LeVangie), we all witnessed the same thing.”

Kelly predicted on Thursday in Philadelphia that he’d throw at least 90 pitches on Saturday, and he also reiterated that he pitches with a bulldog mentality, both of which turned out to be true.

“We had a very, very thin bullpen, and it was a marathon game (the night before),” Kelly said. “I was going to go out there until they told me I couldn’t. If it was in the fifth inning, I was going to try to say, ‘Well, these guys need a little bit more of a break and my arm is feeling fine,’ no matter where I was at in the game. Luckily enough, I made it to the seventh inning and gave myself and the team a chance to win that ballgame.”

The right-hander proclaimed over the offseason that he planned to win the Cy Young Award, and the boast quickly became a punchline. What’s he thinking? He’s never thrown more than 124 innings.

But one start into his season, Kelly looked as good as anyone in the Red Sox rotation, which has collectively excelled through its first turn. He threw 58 of his 93 pitches for strikes while compiling an impressive 12 swings and misses.

He certainly made the most of his opportunity, and now the Red Sox are sitting pretty at 4-1, with a chance for Clay Buchholz to complete the sweep on Sunday. Five games into the season, the Red Sox look like a team that is for real, with incredible offensive depth — reserves Brock Holt and Daniel Nava combined to go 6 for 9 with five RBIs — as well as better than expected starting pitching.

Kelly provided just the latest example of that on Saturday.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: This one’s easy. Joe Kelly started the game as a question mark, and ended it as the standout performer. He went seven one-hit innings, walking two and striking out eight. He dominated the Yankees practically from start to finish, retiring the last 17 batters he faced.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Adam Warren

04.11.15 at 8:53 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Up until Wednesday, as he began the season on the disabled list with sore biceps, it was unclear whether or not Joe Kelly would get his first start of the season this weekend. In fact, manager John Farrell had already decided to send Steven Wright out to the mound to face Adam Warren on Saturday in the Bronx. However, after Kelly threw 78 pitches in a rehab outing Monday and emerged from a bullpen session Wednesday feeling strong, Farrell indicated Kelly was likely to get the ball Saturday.

“My body and arm and everything is physically there,” Kelly said Thursday. “It’s just a matter of that one rehab start [with Single-A Greenville], trying to build pitches up, and being around 75 pitches my last time out, five up and downs, I should be able to get, I hope, to 90, and give the team a chance to win. After those 75 pitches and all those up and downs, my arm bounced back like it normally does. Then I went through my side session and everything checked out good. They felt comfortable letting me go and I felt comfortable.”

Since being traded to the Red Sox from the Cardinals in the deal that sent John Lackey to St. Louis, Kelly has posted a 4-2 record in 10 starts with a 4.11 ERA. In his 61 1/3 innings of work with Boston, the 26-year-old averaged 6.0 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and 4.7 walks per nine as well.

In three starts this spring training, Kelly tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing nine runs and finishing with an 11.05 ERA. Granted, his preseason stint was cut short by his injury.

Kelly faced the Yankees twice last season, both times in September, and earned wins in each game. The first, a 9-4 victory on Sept. 2 in New York and the second a 10-4 victory at Fenway Park on Sept. 27. In both starts, he went at least six innings and struck out nine total batters.

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Read More: Adam Warren, Joe Kelly,

Closing Time: Red Sox finally win longest game in their franchise history

04.11.15 at 2:14 am ET
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Wade Miley turned in a very solid outing in his Red Sox debut Friday night. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Wade Miley turned in a very solid outing in his Red Sox debut Friday night. (Elsa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — It was the game that didn’t want to die.

It eventually did, with the Red Sox claiming a 19-inning, 6-5 win over the Yankees in the wee hours of Saturday morning at Yankee Stadium. That was thanks to Mookie Betts’ sacrifice fly, scoring Xander Bogaerts (who had four hits after 11 p.m.) from third.

But the process to get through the 6-hour, 49 minutes (minus a 16-minute delay due to a lighting issue) … well, that was interesting, to say the least. It was, after all, the longest game (in terms of time) in Red Sox history.

First, Chase Headley took Edward Mujica over the right field wall with two outs in the ninth inning to send things into extra innings. Then David Ortiz gave the Red Sox the lead back with a solo shot in the 16th inning, clearing the right-center field wall. But Mark Teixeira wouldn’t let the Red Sox DH punctuate things, knotting things back up on a blast against Red Sox reliever Steven Wright to lead off the 16th just before 1 a.m.

Then came the 18th inning.

On his ninth at-bat of the night, the third baseman ripped his fourth hit of the game up the middle against Yankees reliever Esmil Rogers to score Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia had reached after being hit by a pitch, proceeding to land at third on Hanley Ramirez‘s single.

The problem was that Wright gave it back up again in the home half of the inning, this time letting Carlos Beltran hit a fly ball over the head of Hanley Ramirez in left field to score pinch-runner John Murphy.

(For a complete box score, click here.)

Thanks in large part to Wade Miley, things started great for the Red Sox … hours and hours before the 16th-inning drama.

For most of his Red Sox debut, Miley carried himself like a pitcher in complete control. Working at his usual quick pace, the lefty didn’t allow a hit until Brett Gardner’s one-out double in the fourth inning. (That came about five hours before the 16th-inning home runs.)

Miley finally ran into trouble in the sixth inning, leaving with one out and the bases loaded after giving up his first run earlier in the frame.

When it was all said and done, the Red Sox came away with another encouraging outing from their starter, with Miley’s 90-pitch/5 1/3-inning start ending with him allowing four hits, two runs and a pair of walks while striking out six.

The Red Sox starters have now given up seven earned runs over 24 1/3 innings (2.61 ERA). And, up until Mujica’s pitch to Headley, the bullpen did alright for itself, as well.

The combination of Robbie Ross Jr. Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa, the Red Sox relievers went 3 1/3 innings without giving up a run. Before Headley’s hit, The Sox bullpen had pitched 10 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and no earned runs.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Xander Bogaerts. After starting 0-for-4, the shortstop finished off his night with four hits, a walk and the game-winning run.

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MLB warns Clay Buchholz for pace of play … in the batter’s box

04.10.15 at 6:07 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Many were wondering if the new pace of play regulations were going to hit Clay Buchholz this season.

Well, this week the pitcher got his warning letter. Except it wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.

“It said pace of play so I thought it was about me pitching,” said Buchholz of his Opening Day start against the Phillies Monday. “I was a little freaked out about it because I thought I was going pretty quick, and I don’€™t know if I can go any quicker than that. The first at-bat I guess I stepped out of the box.”

Buchholz was one of five Red Sox hitters to receive warnings from Major League Baseball regarding stepping out of the batter’s box after a pitch that hadn’t resulted in a swing.

The Red Sox pitcher was evidently one of 10 major leaguers to receive warnings after MLB’s initial round of games. Buchholz said he believes he has narrowed down when the infraction occurred.

“It was probably the first pitch because it the first pitch I’€™ve seen live in two years,” he said.

One Red Sox hitter who did not receive a warning was David Ortiz, who very publicly complained about the batters box rule early on in spring training.

“Buchholz got a letter before me. You believe that? He’s got a letter,” Ortiz said. “‘Hey, buddy, you’re walking out of the box. What’s wrong with you?'”

MLB will distribute warnings for the first month of the season before beginning to implement a fine system.

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

04.10.15 at 12:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox head to the Bronx on Friday to rekindle their rivalry with the Yankees.

After starting the year against a National League team, the Sox will play their first games against a divisional opponent in the young 2015 season. Boston got two high-quality starts from Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, along with a decent outing from Rick Porcello, which resulted in a low-scoring loss. The much talked-about offense was working in Games 1 and 3, and despite only scoring twice in Game 2, the Red Sox are in the top 10 in runs scored through three games.

With a return to an American League stadium this weekend, the Red Sox will be able to use the DH and get a better idea of how their upgraded offense will look for most of 2015. The main area of concern will be the pitching staff against the Yankees. A rotation that already has been called into question was expected to be without one of its starters, Joe Kelly, who was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday. In Kelly’€™s absence, the Red Sox announced Wednesday that knuckleballer Steven Wright would get the start in Game 2 of the series. However, manager John Farrell said on Thursday that after Kelly threw a good bullpen session on Wednesday, “It looks like he’€™€™ll be ready to go by Saturday.”

In 2014 the Red Sox went 7-12 against the Yankees, who have started this season with a 1-2 record. New York’s only win was in Game 2 of its series with the Blue Jays, and the Yankees gave up six runs twice in the series. Their Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up by Toronto and made it through just four innings of work. There was speculation that the Japanese star was not completely healthy for his outing, but the Yankees have made it clear that they don’t believe his health had any effect on the outcome.

“I’m not going to make excuses,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters after Tanaka’s outing. “He’s capable of pitching better than today, and he will. I think you’ll see it as long as he stays healthy, and I believe right now he is healthy.”

The Red Sox will see Tanaka on Sunday.

After being suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season, Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of this season on Thursday night. It was the 655th homer of A-Rod‘s career, putting him just five behind Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.

The Yankees have two starting pitchers on the disabled list, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova.

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees, Red Sox
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