|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Liam Hendriks||04.25.12 at 6:49 am ET|
Baseball is an international sport, but of the many nationalities represented in Major League Baseball, only 28 players born in Australia have ever played in MLB. The Red Sox will confront one of those 28 Australians on Wednesday night when they face a young pitcher from Perth, 23-year-old right-hander Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks will be making just the seventh start of his young career, and he is still searching for his first win. As a September call-up for the Twins in 2011, Hendriks started four games and ran up an 0-2 record by allowing 16 earned runs on 29 hits in 23 1/3 innings. This season, Hendriks made the Opening Day roster on the virtue of a strong spring training in which he went 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA.
Hendriks missed his first scheduled start of the season when he was hospitalized with food poisoning, but he has pitched well in each of his two outings since, despite not factoring into a decision. In his first outing, a 4-3 loss to the Rangers, Hendriks allowed just one run through six innings of work, but Twins relievers allowed three runs in the eighth inning to ruin Hendriks’ 2012 debut. The righty last pitched on April 20, when the Twins topped the Rays, 5-4, but Hendriks exited after 5 2/3 innings with the Twins down, 4-2. The rookie struggled with his command in the outing, throwing 56 of his 101 pitches for strikes and walking two while striking out one.
Hendriks has never faced the Red Sox and has no major league experience against any of the Red Sox batters. Wednesday’s game will be the second of his career against an AL East opponent.
The Red Sox also will send a relatively young pitcher to the mound Wednesday, as 27-year-old Clay Buchholz will make his fourth start of the season. Buchholz has struggled in his return from a season-ending back injury in 2011, tallying a 1-1 record with a 9.00 ERA. In his last outing, the right-hander suffered his first loss in 12 starts as the Yankees topped the Red Sox, 6-2, on Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. Buchholz allowed five earned runs in the outing, matching a season low, while giving up nine hits and five home runs in six innings of work.
Buchholz has allowed a combined 17 earned runs in his three starts this season, more than half of the total he allowed in his 14 starts last season. He has also allowed six home runs, a total that is way above pace for his average of 8.6 home runs per year.
Luckily for Buchholz, he will face a Twins lineup that has the second-fewest home runs in the American League. The Twins hit well overall, however, ranking fifth in the AL in team batting average.
Buchholz is 2-1 in three career starts against the Twins, and he will be making his first career start at Target Field. He will hope to fare better there than he did at the Metrodome. Buchholz took the loss in his only career start there when he allowed seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 7-3 setback on May 12, 2008.
The oft-injured Justin Morneau, who made just his second start of the season at first base in the first game of the series, has hit Buchholz well throughout his career, going 4-for-8 with four singles and an RBI. Joe Mauer does not have much experience against Buchholz, but in four at-bats he has touched up Buchholz for a single, a double, an RBI and two walks.
Red Sox vs. Hendriks (RHP)
No Red Sox batter has ever faced Hendriks
Twins vs. Buchholz (RHP)
Justin Morneau (8 plate appearances): .500 BA/.500 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Joe Mauer (6): .500 BA/.667 OBP/.750 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 walks
Denard Span (6): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 double
Clete Thomas (3): .000 BA/.000 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 strikeout
Josh Willingham (3): .667 BA/.667 OBP/1.000 SLG, 1 double
Jamey Carroll (2): .000 BA/.500 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 hit-by-pitch
Trevor Plouffe (2): .000 BA/.000 OBP/.000 SLG
Danny Valencia (2): .000 BA/.000 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 strikeout
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