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Thursday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Philip Humber

04.25.13 at 9:42 am ET
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Clay Buchholz and Philip Humber both throw right-handed, but that’s just about where the similarities end between the two pitchers this season. Buchholz will start for the Red Sox, Humber for the Astros, at Fenway Park on Thursday at 6:35 p.m.

Buchholz is off to the best start of his career, with 29 strikeouts, 11 walks and just three earned runs allowed through his first 30 innings. He’s gone seven innings in two of his starts and eight in the other two, compiling a 1.00 WHIP and 0.90 ERA and picking up wins in all four games.

His best start was his next-to-last one, when he struck out 11 and shut out the Rays over eight innings on April 14. He fared just fine last time out, though, when he allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out six to help the Sox beat the Royals, 4-3, on Saturday.

Buchholz, who grew up not far from Houston, has never faced the Astros before in his seven-year career. Unsurprisingly, the rebuilding Astros have struggled early in their move to the AL West, with an AL-worst 6-14 record. They’ve won just one series on the road, taking two of three from the fourth-place Mariners in Seattle.

At age 30, Humber already is with his fifth team, having joined the Astros this offseason after they selected him off waivers from the White Sox.

His last outing was one he’d likely rather forget. Against the Indians on April 20, Humber gave up eight runs on eight hits and a walk as nine straight hitters reached base. He retired just one batter before he was removed from the game. Cleveland went on to win 19-6.

Before that game, Humber had a 2.89 ERA through his first three starts, striking out eight, walking four and allowing 17 hits in 18 2/3 innings.

In four career starts against the Red Sox, Humber has a 7.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, with 19 runs on 29 hits in 23 1/3 innings. Of the current Boston players who have seen him, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has hit him well, with two home runs, a double and a .375 OBP in his eight PAs.

Between the Astros’ youth and the fact that this is their first year in the American League, only two current Houston players have ever faced Buchholz before. Carlos Pena, the only one who’s seen him with any frequency, has a .182/.250/.303 line against him in 36 plate appearances, with a home run and eight strikeouts.

Astros vs. Clay Buchholz (RHP)

Carlos Pena (36 plate appearances): .182 BA/.250 OBP/.303 SLG, 1 home run, 1 double, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts

Rick Ankiel (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jose Altuve, Brandon Barnes, Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Ronny Cedeno, Carlos Corporan, Matt Dominguez, Marwin Gonzalez, Brandon Laird and Fernando Martinez have never faced Buchholz.

Red Sox vs. Philip Humber (RHP)

Jacoby Ellsbury (9): .333/.333/.333, 3 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (9): .143/.222/.143, 1 RBI, 1 walk

David Ortiz (8): .286/.375/.286, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (8): .375/.375/1.250, 2 HR, 1 double, 4 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Stephen Drew (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Mike Napoli (4): .333/.500/1.333, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Will Middlebrooks (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Daniel Nava (3): .000/.333/.000, HBP

Pedro Ciriaco and Jonny Gomes have never reached base in two and one PAs against Humber, respectively. Both have struck out once. Mike Carp, David Ross and Shane Victorino have never faced Humber.

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