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Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. John Danks 04.16.14 at 8:16 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their series in Chicago on Wednesday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against the White Sox and left-hander John Danks.

After struggling in his first appearance of the season, Buchholz inched closer to form in his most recent outing despite picking up the loss. Buchholz gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits and six strikeouts during six innings against the Yankees last Thursday. New York went on to win that game 4-1.

“I felt a lot better,” Buchholz said after the game, (via MLB.com). “Just in the last five days, with my arm strength and everything, it got a lot better within a five-day span. Usually it doesn’t happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight. I’ve got to minimize the damage a little bit more in a couple of spots. Other than that I felt like I threw the ball pretty well.”

Buchholz last took on the White Sox on May 22, 2013, when he scattered five hits and just one run over seven innings on the mound. The game, which Boston eventually won 6-2, was Buchholz’€™s seventh victory of the season. Overall, Buchholz holds a 2-2 record in six starts against the White Sox with a 4.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29.

Danks comes into the start after earning his first win of the season last Thursday when he faced off against the Indians. After giving up two runs in the first, the 29-year-old lefty limited Cleveland to three overall runs on six hits and four strikeouts over six innings.

In his last appearance against the Red Sox — a game on Aug. 31, 2013 — Danks gave up six runs, five earned, on 11 hits over five innings. The loss was his 11th of the season and went along with a trend of Danks struggling against Boston. In nine starts, Danks has gone 3-6 with a 5.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.44.

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Closing Time: Michael Pineda spins a (controversial) beauty in beating Red Sox 04.10.14 at 10:03 pm ET
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The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees' pitcher Michael Pineda.

The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda.

NEW YORK — Michael Pineda pitched very, very well Thursday night. How he did it, however, was a major topic of conversation throughout what turned into a 4-1 Yankees win over the Red Sox.

Pineda finished his six-inning outing allowing just one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking two. But while the righty was getting the Red Sox to chase slider after slider, talk heated up about what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on his the base of his pitching hand.

(To read more on the Pineda controversy, click here.)

Clay Buchholz — who came under similar suspicion a year ago when it was pointed out by Toronto broadcasters that he appeared to be using a foreign substance — pitched better than his first start of the season, but it still wasn’t good enough.

Buchholz gave up four runs (two earned) over six innings, striking out six and not walking a batter. The righty, who threw 94 pitches, surrendered seven hits.

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

WHAT WENT WRONG

Jonathan Herrera, who had been solid defensively at third base, mishandled an easy chance off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury with nobody out in the fourth inning. The miscue opened the door for the Yankees‘€™ first run, with Brian McCann snapping an 0-for-14 stretch with an RBI single down the right field line, scoring Ellsbury.

– The Yanks made it 2-0 in the fourth when the Red Sox had to settle for a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Alfonso Soriano, letting Carlos Beltran score from third.

– The Red Sox weren’€™t able to manage a hit off of Pineda until the fifth, when Xander Bogaerts placed a one-out single into left field.

– Buchholz allowed Dean Anna‘€™s first major league homer in the fifth, laying in a 1-1 fastball the second baseman pulled into the right field seats for a 3-0 Yankees lead.

 WHAT WENT RIGHT

Daniel Nava made one of the best defensive plays of the young season, executing a full-on dive of a Yangervis Solarte fly ball leading off the Yankees‘€™ half of the third inning. Nava had to sprint in on the shallow pop-up, proceeding to leave his feet before hauling in first out in the home half of the frame.

– Nava went a long way toward snapping out of his slump, launching a solo home run to right field leading off the seventh inning to cut the Yanks’€™ lead to 4-1. One batter later, Bogaerts singled to drive Pineda from the game. For the Red Sox shortstop, it was his third multi-hit game of the season.

Craig Breslow appeared in his first big league game of the season, throwing a flawless frame.

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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore in leadoff spot, playing left field against Yankees at 3:34 pm ET
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NEW YORK — With righty Michael Pineda on the mound for the Yankees Thursday night, the Red Sox have Grady Sizemore leading off and playing left field with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center. It marks the first time this season Sizemore has played left.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for the opener of their four-game series against the Yanks:

Grady Sizemore LF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava RF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Jonathan Herrera 3B

Clay Buchholz P

For all the matchups, click here.

For a series preview, click here.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Michael Pineda at 9:39 am ET
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The Red Sox on Thursday will begin their first series against the arch-rvial Yankees, a four-game tilt in New York, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against Michael Pineda.

Buchholz will make his second start of the season, five days after Saturday’s appearance against the Brewers. The 29-year-old struggled in that game, lasting 4 1/3 innings and giving up six runs on 13 hits, including two home runs, while striking out three.

“It took a little bit to get loose,” Buchholz said after the game. “It was pretty cool out there. You don’t want to give up that many hits ever. They’re swinging early and putting balls in play.”

Buchholz ended up with a no-decision as Boston was able to come back and tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning before falling in 11.

Buchholz has faced the Yankees 12 times (all starts), holding a 5-5 record with an ERA of 5.32 and a WHIP of 1.601. Last year Buchholz was dominant against the Yankees, going 3-0 in three games with an ERA of 0.50 and a WHIP of 0.94.

Pineda pitched well in his debut with the Yankees, his first major league start since 2011 (he had shoulder surgery in 2012 and pitched in the minors last year). Pineda went six innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday and allowed one run while striking out five. His performance wasn’t good enough, however, as he was saddled with the loss as the Yankees were shut out, 4-0.

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Ice-cold Clay Buchholz (six, runs, 13 hits) struggles badly as Red Sox fall in 11 at frigid Fenway 04.05.14 at 11:33 pm ET
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Mike Napoli's 3-run homer in the third put the Red Sox back in the game Saturday against Milwaukee. (AP)

Mike Napoli‘s 3-run homer in the third put the Red Sox back in the game Saturday against Milwaukee. (AP)

Clay Buchholz was as ice-cold as the elements Saturday night.

Back-to-back doubles from Khris Davis and Logan Schafer in the 11th inning off former Brewer Burke Badenhop broke a 6-6 tie and led Milwaukee to its second straight interleague win over the Red Sox, 7-6, Saturday night in a four-hour, 23-minute marathon at a frigid Fenway Park. Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in order in the 11th to send Boston to its second straight loss at home and drop them to 2-3 on the very young season.

The game began just after 7 p.m., with a temperature reading of 48 degrees and a wind chill in the upper 30s. By the 10th inning, Fenway was less than half-full and the temperature had dipped into the upper 30s.

Buchholz, the Red Sox starter, allowed a career-high 13 hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Brewers used two long home runs from Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gomez off Buchholz and clutch hitting to race out to a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third.

“I missed with a lot pitches and when I did they seemed to put the barrel on it and find some holes,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the couple of home runs they hit were pitches not where they were supposed to be. Just a lot of mistakes that they found holes for.

“I felt fine. It took a little bit to get loose. It was pretty cold out there. But other than that, it was just basically missing in the middle of the plate or missing up [in strike zone] and that’s where their hits came off of. I don’t think I threw one good pitch that was hit, that I look back on and I don’t think he should’ve hit that pitch. That’s the way it goes.”

Buchholz is slated to pitch next Thursday in the Bronx in the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees.

“I’ve been around for a little bit so you can’t dwell on your last start,” Buchholz added. “To do that, it’s probably not going to work out too well for you. Just put in the work that I have to do to get ready for that start against the Yankees.”

Buchholz was bailed out by his offense and did not figure in the decision. Buchholz, who managed only 72 pitches on the night, didn’t allow more than eight hits in any start in 2013 and had never allowed more than seven hits in any game at Fenway.

“You don’t want to give up that many hits ever,” Buchholz said. “But they were swinging early and that’s what I want teams to do, I want them to swing, I want them to put balls in play. I have to do a better job of limiting that and obviously putting pitches where I want to. I wasn’t able to do that at all tonight, really. That’s the way the game goes some times. I have to figure it out before the next time out.”

The Red Sox, playing without David Ortiz (rest), Will Middlebrooks (right calf) and Mike Carp (back) in the starting lineup, managed to battle back as the Brewers started to self-destruct, namely third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura.

With one out, Dustin Pedroia reached on a fielding error by Ramirez. The next batter, Daniel Nava, hit a routine grounder to Segura at short that appeared to be tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. But instead of a 6-4-3 DP, Segura bobbled it and retired only Nava at first.

Mike Napoli followed with a rocket to the center field bleachers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one, 6-5.

The Red Sox used more Milwaukee mayhem in the field to tie the game in the sixth. The Brewers appeared ready to escape a first-and-second, none-out jam when A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Jonathan Herrera grounded softly to Segura at short. Segura bobbled and couldn’t recover as Xander Bogaerts scored from third.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Brewers matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Wily Peralta at 9:27 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to bounce back after a ninth-inning loss to the Brewers on Friday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against Wily Peralta Saturday evening.

Buchholz heads into his first start of the year after an offseason in which he rested his shoulder and did not pick up a baseball from the World Series until December. The 29-year-old righty missed more than three months of the 2013 season with an inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder before he came back in September and pitched through the postseason.

Over the course of spring training, Buchholz pitched an increasing amount of innings, pitching a total of 19 during March and going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP of 0.95.

“Obviously, it’€™s taking a little bit longer to get the innings in for the simple fact that I started a little bit late, but for the most part it’€™s worked out pretty nicely for me and to be able to go out there and have a pitch limit set or an inning limit set during the game,” Buchholz said.

Buchholz, who has never faced off against the Brewers, last pitched on Oct. 27, 2013, in Game 4 of the World Series. In four innings on the mound, Buchholz gave up one unearned run on three hits while striking out two and walking three in what was ultimately a 4-2 Red Sox win over the Cardinals.

Like Buchholz, Peralta has never pitched against the team he’ll face Saturday. The 24-year-old, who is in his third season with Milwaukee, comes into the game after the best spring of his career. Peralta went 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in six appearances in spring.

Peralta’€™s last outing of the 2013 season came in late September when the righty picked up his 11th win of the year after he gave up three earned runs on five hits and five walks against St. Louis.

Brewers vs. Buchholz (RHP)

Lyle Overbay (32 plate appearances): .250 AVG/.344 OBP/ .286 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts

Mark Reynolds (17): .250/.412/.583, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Carlos Gomez has two strikeouts in three plate appearances vs. Buchholz.

Red Sox vs. Peralta (RHP)

No current Red Sox batters have faced Peralta.

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Grady Sizemore makes another statement in Red Sox’ win over Rays 03.25.14 at 4:29 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore (AP)

Grady Sizemore continued his hot spring. (AP)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Tuesday marked the first of three days that the Red Sox planned to use to reach a final determination about whether Grady Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. will be their Opening Day center fielder. While it remains to be seen how Sizemore will be able to handle his first exposure of the spring to back-to-back-to-back games, his opening statement (in a 4-2 Red Sox win over the Rays) was a compelling one.

Sizemore, facing Rays left-hander Cesar Ramos in the top of the sixth inning, crushed his first homer of the spring, blasting it well over the the fence in right field. It was his first longball in a game since July 15, 2011, and his first against a left-hander since going deep against Tim Collins of the Royals on April 26, 2011. While Sizemore wasn’t too caught up in that at-bat as a landmark of his spring, he did allow that his timing at the plate has exceeded even his own expectations, and that he increasingly feels like he’s playing in the rhythm of the game.

“I feel good and I’m happy with just how everything’s gone in such a short period. I didn’t expect to feel this good or to feel this comfortable so soon, so I’m happy with that aspect, obviously,” said Sizemore. “I definitely feel comfortable the more I’m out there, the more I play. … It’s still kind of like a normal spring training where you’re trying to get that last bit of conditioning in. I feel good during each game, I feel good after the game, but it’s one of those things where you have normal muscle soreness. It’s just kind of working through that and continuing to get the conditioning you get from playing in the game.”

In addition to the homer, Sizemore also grounded out twice and struck out (his second strikeout of the spring, this one on a full-count 96 mph fastball up against left-hander Jake McGee). On the spring, he’s now hitting .303 with a .324 OBP and .424 slugging mark in 34 spring plate appearances. He’s struck out just four times.

“He gets a first-pitch fastball from a lefthander (Ramos) and put a really good swing on it, and then even against McGee, even though he strikes out, there’s a lot of balance at the plate. We’ve talked a number of times about the timing at the plate. He continues to show it,” said Farrell. “The way we’ve seen the ball come off the bat almost a week at a time, starting from before camp opened up to the live BP to game action, you’re seeing it more and more, and I think he’s starting to get into his legs a little bit more at the plate.”

Bradley, by contrast, went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts (one looking, one swinging) and a first-pitch pop-up, and is now hitting .173 with a .232 OBP, .288 slugging mark, 16 strikeouts and three walks in 56 plate appearances this spring. He played his first game of the spring in right field, with Sizemore in center — an alignment that could become a possibility during the regular season if Shane Victorino is ever sidelined. Read the rest of this entry »

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