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Closing Time: Red Sox rally comes up short as Indians complete sweep in ALDS 10.10.16 at 9:51 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed two runs over four innings to take the loss in Game 3 of the ALDS. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz allowed two runs over four innings in Game 3 of the ALDS. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

That certainly wasn’t how things were supposed to go.

After entering the postseason as the favorites in the American League, the Red Sox were swept by the Indians in the best-of-five series, concluding with a 4-3 loss Monday night at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox offensive simply couldn’t get anything going all series long, including Monday as they were shut down by starter Josh Tomlin for a second time in the series.

Tomlin held the Red Sox to two runs over five-plus innings in four hits, while walking one and striking out four. After Tomlin, Andrew Miller didn’t allow a run in his two innings of relief, but the Red Sox did make things interesting in the eighth against Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen.

After a David Ortiz walk with two outs against Allen, Hanley Ramirez ripped a single to left scoring Mookie Betts to make it a 4-3 game and the tying run being at second base, which was when Ortiz was lifted for Marco Hernandez as a pinch-runner to a standing ovation. Xander Bogaerts ripped a line drive, but it was right at the second baseman to end the threat and leave the tying run in scoring position.

In the ninth, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-out single and Dustin Pedroia walked, but Travis Shaw flied out to end it.

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz avoided trouble in the first three innings, but couldn’t get out of a jam in the fourth. Jose Ramirez led the inning off with a single and was followed by a Lonnie Chisenhall walk. Coco Crisp laid down a perfect bunt to set up second and third with one out and catcher Tyler Naquin delivered with hard single to right to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.

Buchholz was lifted after the inning as he went four innings, allowing the two runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out four.

Drew Pomeranz relieved Buchholz and allowed a crucial, two-run home run to Crisp in the sixth inning, putting the Indians ahead 4-1 at the time. It was Crisp’s second postseason home run of his career.

The Red Sox scored their first run in the fifth. After a Bogaerts one-out single, Andrew Benintendi doubled off the wall to score Bogaerts on a close play at the plate. That would be all they would get in the frame as Sandy Leon and Bradley Jr. were both retired, leaving the tying run at the time on second base.

Tomlin was pulled following a leadoff single in the sixth and in came Miller. The Red Sox did get another run as following a Betts double, Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly to center, but Ramirez then struck out to end the inning.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox led for exactly one inning in the entire series.

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

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Drew Pomeranz, xander bogaerts
Clay Buchholz will rely on past back against the wall experience Sunday vs. Indians 10.08.16 at 6:55 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz will take the ball in Sunday's Game 3. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz will take the ball in Sunday’s Game 3. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz is no stranger to pitching in Game 3 of an ALDS with his team trailing 0-2.

In 2009, the Red Sox trailed the Angels 0-2 and Buchholz got the ball in Game 3. The right-handed pitched well, allowing two runs on six hits in five innings, while walking one and striking out three. He took a no-decision, but the Red Sox lost 7-6, ending their season.

Buchholz, who has the most postseason experience of any Red Sox starter, will rely on the past to help him get through Sunday.

“It’s a baseball game,” Buchholz said. “Like I said, it’s on a little bit bigger stage, but you’ve still got to go out and do the small things that you’re capable of doing, and that’s making pitches whenever they are called upon. You’ve got to minimize the damage.

“I think that’s the biggest key in post-season is whenever some bad situations present themselves, you’ve got to know how to minimize them or get a ground ball when you need it. When you do that, I think that adds to your team coming back in the dugout, to get back in the box and score some runs.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for Buchholz to say the least. He’s gone back-and-forth between the rotation and the bullpen both because of his own performance and due to injuries to other starters.

Buchholz has been in the rotation for the past month or so and has pitched his best baseball of the season. Over his last five starts, he’s 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA.

The right-hander also has enjoyed some postseason success of late. The Red Sox have won each of his last three postseason starts, most recently Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.

It seems only fitting he gets the ball in a must-win game.

“Everybody goes through some struggles at some point at the end of the year,” Buchholz said. “You know, mine were a little bit more extreme than others, but that being said, you know, we’re all here to win games; to play for a championship, and whenever things are going wrong, especially in this atmosphere, this environment, this organization, you’re expected to be really good every time out, and sometimes that can pile up on you.”

“I thought in my mind I would be on the mound in a deciding game, as well,” added Buchholz. “It was a little far-fetched at one point this year, but you know, I’m still here. So I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Manager John Farrell also noted Buchholz’s up-and-down season and was quick to note his resurgence of late, even going as far to say it could be the right-hander’s best stretch of his whole career.

“He’s been very consistent over the past probably six to eight weeks,” Farrell said. “He’s had a resurgence of his own right inside this season. So I don’t think anyone has watched as closely — can fully appreciate all that he’s been through this year, from someone that needed a little bit of a breather from the rotation, worked out some issues while going to the bullpen and has returned and pitching some of the best baseball, I think, in his career.”

Best stretch of his career or not, the Red Sox just need him to be good on Sunday to keep the season going.

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Trailing Indians 0-2, Red Sox hold team meeting in advance of Sunday’s Game 3 at 4:28 pm ET
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John Farrell wants the Red Sox to get back to playing like they have all season. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

John Farrell wants the Red Sox to get back to playing like they have all season. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

About 24 hours before Game 3 the Red Sox held a team meeting at Fenway Park.

Trailing the Indians 0-2 in a best-of-five series, the Red Sox are one loss away from their season being over. The last thing they want is to be swept.

To get things back on the right track, the team held a meeting Saturday afternoon (players and coaches) with the general message being not to forget what the team accomplished during the season and to start playing like they did over the course of the season. They want to erase the past two games from their minds.

“I think what was discussed a little bit ago was just don’t forget about who we are,” manager John Farrell said. “Don’t forget who you are individually and certainly, what we’ve been as a team. That is where there is a lot of recent history that gives us confidence going into tomorrow.”

Added Clay Buchholz: “It was more of a players meeting. Obviously all the staff was in there, but it was basically a meeting to tell everybody in the clubhouse — the young guys, the veterans that it isn’t about the last two games. Forget about them. Not to worry 24-48 hours ago. That isn’t going to help you moving forward. That was probably the biggest message. Go out and be ourselves. We’re the Boston Red Sox. We know what baseball is about. Our front office and ownership have put a really good team on the field. Up until this point we’ve been a really good baseball team. We won the best division in baseball this year as well. I think that was probably the biggest point, to not forget who we are and play the game.”

The Red Sox have won three of the last six postseason series in which they lost the first two games and in order for it to happen again, it’s going to be because of the team as a whole, not one individual.

“The biggest thing is we have accomplished and experienced everything as a group, everything as a team,” Farrell said. “What we’ve won has been as a team and nights that we don’t, we lose as a team. That meeting included all of us. We’re in this together. We’re in this point being 0-2 not because of one person, area of our team, but collectively. It is going to require that contribution from our group as well to regain some momentum and reverse this. That was something — I think on the flight back last night I’m sure we all shared some similar thoughts individually, and felt it was important to bring those together and not reflect on what has been. We can’t go back there, but yet remain committed on tomorrow.”

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Clay Buchholz to start Game 3 of ALDS vs. Indians 10.04.16 at 3:33 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz will start Game 3 of the ALDS vs. Cleveland. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz will start Game 3 of the ALDS vs. Cleveland. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Although John Farrell won’t announce the final playoff roster until Thursday morning’s deadline, it’s known who will start Game 3.

Speaking in the clubhouse prior to a workout at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Clay Buchholz said he will be the Game 3 starter.

This means the Red Sox rotation will be Rick Porcello, David Price, Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez. It also means Buchholz could be available out of the bullpen in a potential Game 5.

Manager John Farrell wouldn’t confirm it when asked, but also didn’t deny it.

Buchholz bounced back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen this year, but has been at his best of late as a starter. He is 3-0 in his last five starts with an ERA of 3.14.

“Baseball is a confidence driven game,” Buchholz said. “If you’re confident, you’re a lot better off than being not confident. I got some confidence moving in the right direction.”

One of the biggest reasons for his success down the stretch was an adjustment in his mechanics as he now always pitches from the stretch.

“Moving to the stretch it simplified just about everything I do within the delivery and I didn’t have to think of anything,” he said. “I’ve got a lot more comfortable doing that. That’s probably the one thing that has pushed me forward.”

Overall in 2016, Buchholz is 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA in 21 starts and 16 relief appearances.

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Bryan Mitchell 09.28.16 at 10:32 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox will take a second shot at clinching the AL East when they send Clay Buchholz out against Yankees right-hander Bryan Mitchell on Wednesday night in the Bronx.

Buchholz is 8-10 with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP in 36 games (20 starts). On Wednesday, the 32-year-old right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up just one run, three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in a 5-1 win over the Orioles.

“I’ve been here before,” Buchholz said (via MLB.com). “I knew I wasn’t going to be bad all year. It was a stretch that I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t know how to fix it. I was trying too hard and overdoing a lot of things, overanalyzing. Yeah, it takes a couple of games to get some confidence going in the right direction. It’s fun pitching when everything is going good, especially when you’re winning.”

Against the Yankees, Buchholz is 6-9 with a 5.99 ERA and a 1.637 WHIP in 19 games (18 starts). In two games (one start) against New York this season, he is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP. His lone start vs. the Yankees came on Sept. 16, when he pitched six innings, allowing two runs, seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a 7-4 Sox win.

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Read More: Bryan Mitchell, Clay Buchholz,
Closing Time: Andrew Benintendi homers, Red Sox capitalize on error in win over Orioles 09.21.16 at 10:15 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) soars over Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop (on Wednesday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) soars over Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop (on Wednesday. (Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports)

Suddenly, the Magic Number is six. Can anyone stop the Red Sox?

Saving their best baseball for the absolute right time of the year, the Red Sox capitalized on a huge error by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis to score five runs in the sixth, erase a 1-0 deficit, and cruise to a 5-1 victory.

The team’s seventh straight win left it on the cusp of completing its second straight four-game sweep, coming on the heels of four wins over the Yankees at Fenway Park. The seven-game winning streak is a season-high.

This one was in the balance until the sixth, when Sandy Leon grounded to Davis with the bases loaded and two outs. Instead of under-handing to pitcher Brad Brach covering, Davis threw a seed that eluded the pitcher, allowing two runs to score.

One pitch later, rookie Andrew Benintendi drilled a three-run homer over the right field fence to give the Red Sox a comfortable lead they would not relinquish.

Right-hander Clay Buchholz, making a bid for the final spot in the postseason rotation, stymied the O’s for seven innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out four. The only Orioles run came on an Adam Jones sacrifice fly in the third. Otherwise, Buchholz cruised while improving to 8-10 and lowering his ERA to 5.00.

Coupled with Toronto’s loss in Seattle, the Red Sox opened a five-game lead over the Blue Jays and six games over the Orioles in the AL East. Their magic number now stands at six with 10 games to play, which should allow manager John Farrell to rest regulars down the stretch.

The Red Sox will try to complete the sweep on Thursday.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox have won Clay Buchholz’s last five starts. He’s 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last six.

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Clay Buchholz, Orioles, Red Sox
Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Ubaldo Jimenez at 8:38 am ET
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With the Red Sox riding a six-game winning streak, Clay Buchholz will take on right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the second game of the Red Sox-Orioles four-game set.

Buchholz is 7-10 with a 5.20 ERA and a 1.401 WHIP in 35 games (19 starts). On Friday he threw six innings, allowing two runs, seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a 7-4 win over the Yankees.

“I thought he made a couple of really good fastball pitches in to [Gary] Sanchez for a couple of ground-ball double plays early on,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’d bend a little bit but stayed away from the big inning. He gave ourselves a chance to get the offense on track, and then we had a very good offensive night overall.”

Against Baltimore, the right-hander is 10-7 with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.372 WHIP in 22 games (19 starts). This year he is 0-2 against the Orioles with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP in three games (one start). The last time he saw the Orioles was in June. In that relief appearance, he threw three innings, allowing no runs, two hits and no walks with four strikeouts. Buchholz’s last start against Baltimore came in April. He threw five innings, allowing five runs, five hits (two home runs) and three walks with five strikeouts in a 9-5 Sox loss.

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Would Clay Buchholz be No. 3 starter candidate in postseason? 09.16.16 at 11:56 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz has pitched well of late. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Clay Buchholz has pitched well of late and could be making a case to start in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Clay Buchholz.

His past three outings have been his fourth stint in the starting rotation as because of performance and injuries, Buchholz has gone back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen.

As the Red Sox continue to search for a dependable No. 3 starter, Buchholz is the only pitcher pitching like he wants it.

Buchholz was solid on Friday night to earn the win in the Red Sox’ 7-4 victory over the Yankees. He went six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. He picked up his first win at Fenway Park since May 9.

“Not as many walks – the two walks that I did have, found a way to minimize them, had a couple of double plays that helped out,” Buchholz said. “Defense played really good behind me again tonight. It was a grind.i felt like they put up some really tough at-bats together. With that win, its a big win given the situation that we’re in.”

Although he didn’t have a clean inning all night, his ability to pitch out of jams was what made him so effective.

“I thought he did a very good job with men on base,” manager John Farrell said. “He created a couple of jams for himself, but to the left-handers he was able to go to a couple of changeups to get some soft contact. I thought he made a couple of really good fastball pitches in to [Gary] Sanchez for a couple of groundball double plays early on. He’d bend a little bit, but stayed away from the big inning.”

Besides his rough outing in Toronto last Sunday, Buchholz allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Padres on Sept. 6 and then was good again Friday. Prior to the Padres start, he allowed one earned run in each of his prior two starts, so he’s been solid as a starter for well over a month.

Over his last five starts he has an ERA of 3.94, which includes the six runs over three innings against the Blue Jays.

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Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez continues hot streak, Clay Buchholz picks up win as Red Sox beat Yankees at 10:24 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez homered again on Friday against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez homered again on Friday against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox appear to be in a good position for the final 15 games of the season.

Led by Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, and Clay Buchholz on the mound, the Red Sox beat Yankees 7-4 Friday night at Fenway Park.

They now lead the Yankees by six games in the AL East and Orioles by two games as they came from behind to beat the Rays. The Blue Jays are playing the Angels late on the West Coast.

The Red Sox carried over their momentum from Thursday night into the first inning on Friday as they scored two runs. David Ortiz had an RBI single off the Green Monster, but was thrown out at second base and then Ramirez singled up the middle to make it a 2-0 game.

“We came out aggressive, not only in terms of the way we swung the bats, but we pressed the issue on the bases,” manager John Farrell said. “It didn’t always work in our favor, but I think it set the tone early on. We were able to follow it up with some quality at-bats. [Luis] Cessa did settle down a little bit, but we had a couple of really good situation hitting opportunities. Travis [Shaw] with the sacrifice fly, Mookie [Betts] pushing a base hit through the right side, and David [Ortiz], Hanley [Ramirez], once again, the middle of that order has been powerful and it has been consistent.”

Ramirez kept his hot streak going as he crushed a solo homer in the fourth inning to almost the exact same spot as his walk-off on Thursday to put the Red Sox in front 3-0 at the time. Travis Shaw and Sandy Leon each added RBIs before Bradley Jr. hit a solo homer in the seventh.

Buchholz wasn’t perfect by any means, but was able to make key pitches when he needed to as he escaped a few jams. The right-hander went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. It was his seventh win of the year.

He’s given the team two outstanding starts in his last three outings with Steven Wright down and possibly out for the year.

“I don’t know that you can place a true value on it. He’s come up big,” Farrell said. “With the exception of one start, he’s been six innings and low runs, even no runs allowed. He looks comfortable on the mound. The pitching from the stretch has been a major adjustment for him to allow for some consistency, particularly with men on base. That’s where the location of pitches has probably its greatest meeting and that’s where it showed up here tonight.”

The Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Robbie Ross Jr. (2/3 of an inning), Brad Zieger (1/3 of an inning), Koji Uehara (one inning) were excellent in relief as they didn’t allow a run in two innings of work, but Fernando Abad had issues in the ninth as he allowed a two-run homer to Billy Butler forcing Craig Kimbrel to come on for the final two outs.

Closing Time note

Ramirez has six home runs in his last nine games, nine in his last 16, and 10 in his last 19.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr.
Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Luis Cessa at 8:05 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox will dispatch Clay Buchholz to face rookie right-hander Luis Cessa on Friday night in the second game of the Red Sox-Yankees four-game series.

Buchholz is 7-10 with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.396 WHIP in 34 games (18 starts). His last time out against the Blue Jays on Sunday was unimpressive. In only three innings of work he gave up six runs, four hits (two home runs) and four walks with three strikeouts in an 11-8 Sox win.

Against the Yankees, the right-hander is 5-9 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.647 WHIP in 18 games (17 starts). Buchholz last saw the Yankees on Aug. 10. In that appearance, he replaced starter Drew Pomeranz in the sixth inning and went on to get Starlin Castro to ground into an inning-ending double play. His last start against the Pinstripes came in July of last season, when he went 3 1/3 innings before having to leave the game with an elbow injury. Before departing, he allowed three runs (one earned), six hits and no walks with three strikeouts.

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