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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Hiroki Kuroda

06.02.13 at 10:35 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to take the series in New York on Sunday night, with Clay Buchholz set to face off against right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz is ready to return to the mound after being pushed back almost a week due to some discomfort in his AC joint around his collarbone, which appeared to be caused by falling asleep in a strange position while holding his daughter. The starter reassured that the injury was not a serious issue that would require a DL stint or a large chunk of missed time, stressing that pushing his start back was a precaution rather than a mandatory measure. Buchholz originally was slated to pitch on Friday night in New York, the first game of the series, but felt discomfort while throwing a bullpen session, and his start was again moved back to ensure he was healthy enough to pitch.

“The place I originally felt the stiffness, it’s pretty much gone,” Buchholz said on Thursday. “It’s just the soreness … from messing around and pulling and tugging with the muscles, but no, just feels muscular. In the bullpen, threw pretty much max effort. Ball came out of my hand a lot better there, too.” Manager John Farrell agreed that Buchholz is ready to go, and that the righty has shown improvement in his most recent throwing sessions.

Buchholz owns the second-lowest ERA in the major leagues with a 1.73 mark, second only to Arizona’s Patrick Corbin. Buchholz had won six straight starts to open the season before a string of no-decisions in May. His last time out, back on May 22, Buchholz stayed undefeated and earned his seventh win, allowing one run on five hits and three walks in seven innings to the White Sox. The Boston right-hander hasn’t really had a bad start yet this year; he’s given up more than two runs only once (four runs against Minnesota) and has managed to go at least seven innings in all but one of his outings (lasted six innings in that same starts vs. Minnesota). Buchholz’s 73 strikeouts rank as 15th most in the majors but are the highest total for a pitcher who has less than 11 games under his belt in 2013. The 28-year-old has had just about everything working for him in the first two months of the season, walking only 27 batters in 72 2/3 innings, striking out an average of nine per nine innings, and allowing only two home runs through 10 games.

Though his outing against the Yankees earlier this season was an impressive performance (one run on six hits over seven innings), Buchholz has struggled against New York over the course of his career. In 10 games, his ERA sits at 6.41 with a 3-5 record. Buchholz’s two starts against the Yankees in 2012 definitely inflated his ERA a bit; he allowed 13 earned runs in only 7 2/3 innings to New York last season, including an eight-run bashing he took in his last start of the year, lasting only an inning and two-thirds while giving up three home runs.

The pitcher Buchholz will be opposing hasn’t had a bad year, either. Kuroda undoubtedly has been the most effective member of the Yankees rotation, coming into the game with a 6-3 record and 2.39 ERA. The Yankees spent $15 million to bring the starter back into the fold for the 2013 season, and for good reason. Kuroda has been a huge factor in New York’s early success this year, which isn’t much of a surprise; he was one of their most solid pitchers in 2012 as well.

Kuroda, like Buchholz, has really had only one subpar outing, giving up five runs on eight hits to the Orioles on May 22. Kuroda lasted only two innings, being removed after facing one batter in the third due to an injury. But Kuroda bounced back nicely in his next start, blanking the Mets through seven innings while allowing only four hits and striking out seven. The Yankees were unable to supply Kuroda with any run support, and the starter would not be involved in the decision, an eventual 2-1 loss for the Yankees after Mariano Rivera blew a save and allowed the Mets to score twice in the ninth.

“Same [as always],” manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda’s impressive outing. “Good split, good slider, good command of his fastball. He just really knows how to pitch.”

Hiroki Kuroda

The Red Sox have seen Kuroda once already in 2013, though they didn’t see him for very long. The righty was removed from the game after taking a line drive off the hand in the second inning, leaving after allowing the Sox to score two runs on four hits in an inning and a third. Over seven career games vs. the Red Sox, Kuroda owns a 2-2 record and 3.74 ERA.

Red Sox vs. Kuroda (RHP)

Stephen Drew (26 plate appearances): .333 BA/.346 OBP/.417 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (17): .313/.353/.438, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (16): .467/.500/.733, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBI, 1 walk

Pedro Ciriaco (13): .250/.250/.417, 2 doubles, 2 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13): .250/.308/.500, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (12): .333/.500/.444, 1 double, 1 RBI

Jonny Gomes (9): .000/.111/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (7): .167/.286/.167, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Carp (6): .333/.333/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI

David Ortiz (6): .667/.667/.667, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jose Iglesias (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 RBI

Jackie Bradley drew a walk in his only plate appearance against Kuroda. David Ross has not faced Kuroda.

Yankees vs. Buchholz (RHP)

Vernon Wells (32): .241/.313/.276, 1 double, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Lyle Overbay (29): .280/.379/.320, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (28): .429/.429/.679, 1 HR, 4 doubles, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout

Mark Teixeira (20): .211/.250/.526, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Brennan Boesch (19): .158/.158/.316, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (16): .133/.133/.133, 3 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (11): .200/.273/.200, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Travis Hafner (9): .333/.333/.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jayson Nix (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Reid Brignac (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Chris Stewart (2): .000/.000/.000

David Adams and Austin Romine have not faced Buchholz.

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