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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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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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Closing Time: David Ortiz victimizes Joaquin Benoit again as Red Sox claim wild win over Blue Jays, open 2-game lead 09.11.16 at 4:56 pm ET
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David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz owns two career home runs against Joaquin Benoit. Red Sox fans will never forget the first. We may look back at the second as the biggest of this season.

Three years after his grand slam off of Benoit saved the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, Ortiz once again victimized the reliever, this time blasting a three-run homer to erase an 8-7 deficit and propel the Red Sox to an 11-8 victory on Sunday that restored their two-game lead in the American League East.

The Red Sox finished a brutal nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record, including two of three in Toronto. When they left for Oakland last week, they trailed by two games in the division. Now they lead by two games. They begin a seven-game homestand against the Orioles and Yankees on Monday.

“The two things that come to mind, one, we never rolled over,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto. “We kept grinding, kept finding a way to come back. Two, this was about one guy picking up another. Clay [Buchholz] exits early, we go to the bullpen, the offense climbs right back into it. Every out by guys coming out of the bullpen was key, all the way down to Noe Ramirez’s one out to set it up to piece together the fifth inning. Just a dramatic home run again from David, against Benoit, that, you know, a few years ago, there was another memorable one. This might not have been the same stage, but where we are against that team, really no less important.”

Ortiz’s three-run bomb in the sixth capped a wild back-and-forth contest that was billed as a pitcher’s duel but instead devolved into an old-fashioned Sox-Jays slugfest. It also brought back pleasant memories of 2013, when Ortiz’s Game 2 grand slam off of Benoit kept the Red Sox from returning to Detroit in a 2-0 series hole.

“A little bit, yeah,” Ortiz told reporters when asked if this homer reminded him of that one. “And I thought I was getting a different menu, but he threw me a hittable — I mean, it wasn’t that bad. It was in the bottom of the strike zone, right where the pitcher wanted to make that pitch. I guess I put a good swing on it.”

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Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia
Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Aaron Sanchez at 7:45 am ET
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The finale of the Red Sox-Blue Jays series on Sunday afternoon will feature the resurgent Clay Buchholz taking the mound opposite right-hander Aaron Sanchez.

Buchholz is 6-10 with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP in 33 games (17 starts). Over the last four games he has gone 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA, which helped him regain a spot in the starting rotation. Buchholz put together another solid outing on Tuesday against the Padres, pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing one run, eight hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

“I still feel like I can pitch and help this team out,” Buchholz said (via MLB.com). “Regardless of the role, it’s a part of the game, and whenever my name is called, I try to go out there and give the team the best chance I can to win. I’m feeling good right now.”

In 31 games (28 starts) against the Blue Jays, the 32-year-old right-hander is 14-9 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.222 WHIP. Buchholz last saw the Jays in June when he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in 5-4 Sox loss. His last start against Toronto came in April, when he threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing no runs, six hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

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John Farrell on D&H: Clay Buchholz’s resurgence ‘couldn’t come at a better time’ 09.07.16 at 3:57 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

Red Sox manager John Farrell made his weekly appearance on Dale & Holley with Thornton on Wednesday to discuss the team — Clay Buchholz and Yoan Moncada in particular. To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Buchholz exited to a standing ovation from a San Diego crowd littered with Red Sox fans on Tuesday night after allowing one run on eight hits with six strikeouts and a walk over 6 2/3 innings. Since slowly reentering the rotation, Buchholz has been one of the Red Sox’ most reliable starters.

“It’s not an easy task to go back and forth, but I think what it speaks to is … Clay’s willingness to do what’s asked,” Farrell said. “And let’s face it, early on he makes 13 starts or thereabouts and the performance kind of put him in the bullpen. But to his credit, he’s made some subtle adjustments. I think pitching out of the stretch exclusively has helped with his consistency. But given where we are right now this time of year he’s pitching at his best this season and it couldn’t come at a better time.”

Suffice to say that the past handful of seasons have been forgettable at times for 32-year-old, but just when all hope seemingly had been lost, Buchholz found his way back into the Red Sox’ good graces.

“He’s never pitched or consistently pitched over 200 innings as you would expect of a top of a top of the rotation guy,” Farrell said. “I can tell you this, he give you what you have, or he gives you what he has. So when he’s been healthy, when he’s performed as he’s doing now and he’s got the ability to spin the baseball and manipulate multiple types of pitches. And because there’s a creative side in there, and I think it was on display again last night, where a hitter can never really sit in one count on one particular pitch.

“So that creativeness, the touch and feel that he has to execute different types of pitches, there are large stretches of individual seasons where he goes out and pitches like he is. And that is like a top of the rotation type of guy. Sure we’d all love it to be 200, 220 innings every single year. But you know what? I think we’re all glad we didn’t part ways at some point earlier in the season.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz cements spot in starting rotation with win over Padres at 4:31 am ET
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Clay Buchholz received a hearty round of applause after his start Tuesday night. (Jake Roth/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz received a hearty round of applause after his start Tuesday night. (Jake Roth/USA Today Sports)

SAN DIEGO — It took until Sept. 6 at Petco Park for Clay Buchholz to get the crowd reaction he had been banking on since getting his first start exactly five months before.

It was a boisterous standing ovation from the sea of red making up a good chunk of the 30,000 Southern California fans, celebrating Buchholz’s 6 2/3-inning outing against the Padres.

“Yeah, I hadn’t had one of those in a while,” Buchholz said of the applause. “It’s like I’ve said — good times, bad times. I still feel like I can pitch and help this team out. Regardless of the role, it’s a part of the game, and whenever my name is called, I try to go out there and give the team the best chance I can to win. I’m feeling good right now.”

He has officially made it back.

With no further clarification in regards to Steven Wright’s recovery, and just 24 games left in the regular season, Buchholz is a virtual lock to remain in the starting rotation the rest of the way. No more bullpen. No more bouncing back and forth. He has not only joined what has been the American League’s best starting rotation for the last month, but cemented himself as an integral part of the group.

Coming into Tuesday, Buchholz had already re-established his value both in the bullpen and when getting a crack at starting. Since July 27, the righty has totaled a 2.20 ERA. As a starter during that stretch he has a 2.31 ERA in four outings.

The latest might have been his best of the year, weaving in and out of a Padres lineup that boasted seven left-handed hitters using an equally effective changeup, curveball, cutter and mid-90’s fastball. When the 87-pitch evening was done, he had given up just one run while striking out six and not walking a batter.

“Very proud of him,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, whose team drew even with Toronto for first-place in the American League East with the win. “Proud of the resiliency that he has shown. And he’s not stopped working. He could have … when you move to the bullpen, you can take it one of two ways. For him after maybe going through the news the first time, he’s taking it in the right way and has worked to get better. You know what, the results are showing.”

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