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Clay Buchholz ‘dazed’ but ‘fine’ after taking grounder off head 07.23.14 at 11:10 pm ET
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TORONTO — The first inning Wednesday night was a nightmare for Clay Buchholz.

Not only did he allow the Blue Jays to claim three runs in the frame after the Red Sox had busted out with three in the top of the first, but the Red Sox starter also experienced another uncomfortable incident in the middle of it all — a baseball off the side of his head.

With two outs in the first, Munenori Kawasaki hit a one-hopper up the middle that somehow avoided Buchholz’ glove, hitting the pitcher in the right side of the head. The play resulted in some anxious moments, with manager John Farrell and trainer Brad Pearson running to the mound to tend to Buchholz, who had just risen to his feet upon their arrival.

“Just probably as a pitcher, when ball’s hit at you, it looks like it’s coming back either a thousand miles an hour or really slow,” Buchholz said. “Felt like I got my glove up and I was sort of falling away from it and it went over my glove.”

When asked what went through his mind at the time, Buchholz said, “Well, it didn’t get me in the face. That was the first checkpoint. It dazed me, for sure. Any time that you get hit with the ball it’s going to take you a second, but yeah, once I got up and once I got my bearings straight, I felt fine.”

The initial diagnosis after the grounder wasn’t good for Buchholz, who immediately allowed an RBI ground-rule double to light-hitting Josh Thole.

The good news was that, for the most part, Buchholz settled down the rest of the way.

With the starter fighting to stay out of the bad mechanics that had plagued him for much of the season’s first few months, Buchholz rebounded from the three-run first to hold the Blue Jays scoreless until the sixth.

“Definitely was coming out of it, jumping a little, and that’s what causes your pitches to miss,” Buchholz said of his mechanics. “Just couldn’t seem to correct it for the duration of the game. Felt like I’d get through it really good for a couple of hitters and then fall back into it. Just something that happens sometimes. Got to do a better job taking care of it.”

Said Farrell: “There was a tendency to fly open occasionally. He missed some pitches to the arm side maybe a little bit more today than we’ve seen of late, but I don’t think it was anything that was glaring. He threw some very good curveballs. He threw some changeups and mixed that in. But the overall sharpness wasn’t what it’s been the last four times out.”

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. R.A. Dickey at 8:45 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Wednesday when Clay Buchholz opposes R.A. Dickey.

Buchholz (5-5, 5.46 ERA) wasn’t at his best in his latest outing last Friday, but he was effective enough to lead the Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the Royals. The right-hander gave up four runs, scattered 10 hits and had three strikeouts over six innings for the win. According to MLB.com, he’s the first Sox starting pitcher to win the last two games the Red Sox have played since Don Schwall in 1961.

“I gave up some loud outs and some loud hits for the first couple of innings, but that’s another team that swings the bat, and they put some balls in play that found some holes and led to a couple of runs,” Buchholz said after the game.

Buchholz is 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA since returning from the disabled list June 25. He’s allowed just one walk to 26 strikeouts in his last five starts.

Buchholz will try to keep this stretch going strong against a Blue Jays team he’s had mixed results against in 2014. He’s 1-1 against Toronto this season, giving up eight runs in 11 2/3 innings.

Buchholz’s last start against the Jays was especially brief. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings at Fenway Park on May 21. He gave up five runs (four earned), nine hits and two walks in a 6-4 Red Sox loss. Buchholz is 10-6 with a 2.71 ERA against the Blue Jays.

After three straight quality starts, Dickey (7-10, 3.95 ERA) struggled in his first outing since the All-Star break last Friday. He gave up five runs on six hits and two home runs over six innings in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers.

Dickey has lost six of his last seven starts. Recently, it’s been thanks in large part to a lack of run support. The Blue Jays have scored just two runs for the righty in his last two starts.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. James Shields 07.18.14 at 8:29 am ET
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The Red Sox will kick off the second half of the 2014 season Friday when they host the Royals for a three-game set at Fenway Park. Boston will send Clay Buchholz to the mound against James Shields in the series opener.

Buchholz (4-5, 5.42 ERA) turned in his best outing of the season Sunday against the Astros, securing a three-hit shutout while striking out a career-high 12 batters en route to a 11-0 Red Sox victory.

Buchholz, who only needed 109 pitches to complete the shutout, is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list June 25 after missing about a month with a hyperextended left knee.

“Today was reminiscent of the first half of last year before he went on the disabled list,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “Very much in control and could go to any one of four pitches at any time in the count.”

Buchholz credited his ability to utilize all four of his pitches as the biggest key to his success as of late.

“It’s night and day,” Buchholz said of being able to throw all of his pitches. “It’s tough going out in a big league baseball game and having two pitches. I’ve done a lot of work to get command of those pitches and it’s finally paying off a little bit.”

Buchholz was dominant in his last against the Royals on April 20, 2013, surrendering two earned runs in eight innings of work. In five career starts against Kansas City, Buchholz is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA.

Shields (9-5, 3.65 ERA) is coming off of another strong performance on Saturday against the Tigers, allowing two earned runs in seven innings while striking out eight batters. Despite Shield’€™s great outing, the Royals lost, 5-1. The Royals are 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.

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What did Red Sox do during All-Star break? 07.17.14 at 12:40 am ET
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With Jon Lester and Koji Uehara the lone All-Star representatives in Minnesota for the Red Sox (besides the coaching staff), many members of the team had a chance to relax before the grind of the second half of the season gets underway. Some decided to share their activities on social media.

First baseman Mike Napoli had dinner with some long-time friends in the North End.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Brad Peacock 07.13.14 at 8:51 am ET
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In their last game before the All-Star break, the Red Sox will close out a three-game set against the Astros by sending Clay Buchholz to the hill against Brad Peacock.

Buchholz (3-5, 6.11 ERA) was solid in his last outing against the White Sox on Monday, surrendering four runs and fanning seven batters over seven innings of work. While Buchholz made two mistakes in a three-run home run from Dayan Vicideo and a solo shot from Adam Dunn, the righty finished strong, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.

“€œIf you’re not looking at the line, or winning and losing pitcher, that’s the best I’ve felt,” Buchholz said after the game, which the White Sox won by a score of 4-0. “The most crisp. Curveball, changeup finally came in the last three innings I was out there. That’s as close to last year as I felt.”

Buchholz has only faced off against Houston once in his career, allowing just two earned runs and striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings on April 25, 2013.

Peacock (3-5, 4.30 ERA) earned a win for the first time since June 5 during his last outing Tuesday on the road against the Rangers, allowing six hits and two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was only the second time this season that Peacock did not walk any batter in a start. The Astros have won five of the last eight games in which the Florida native has started.

“Peacock did a good job attacking the strike zone,” Astros manager Bo Porter after the Tuesday’s win. “I felt like with the heat here, it’s tough when you come in here and you’re not used to pitching in this element. I feel like you have to watch the guys close as far as their stuff leaving them.”

In his only career start against Boston on April 27, 2013, Peacock only lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and five earned runs in what was a 8-4 Red Sox victory.

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Monday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Scott Carroll 07.07.14 at 8:41 am ET
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The Red Sox begin a four-game series with the White Sox on Monday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against Scott Carroll.

Buchholz (3-4, 6.22 ERA) was strong once again in his second start since coming off the disabled list on June 25. He allowed just one run on five hits and had no walks over 6 1/3 innings, but lacked enough run support to earn a decision in a 2-1 Cubs win last Tuesday. Whatever issues Buchholz was having earlier in the season seemingly have disappeared. He’s given up just five runs in 13 2/3 innings and hasn’t walked a batter in the two starts since his return to the Red Sox‘ rotation.

Monday will be Buchholz’s second start against the White Sox this season and the eighth of his career. The right-hander took a no-decision in a solid outing in Chicago on April 16. He gave up three runs (two earned), six hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts over six innings in a 6-4 Red Sox win. Buchholz is 2-2 with a 4.10 ERA in his career against the White Sox.

After beginning the year as a starter, Carroll (2-5, 5.05 ERA) settled nicely into his long-relief role with the White Sox. The righty posted a 1.83 ERA in six relief appearances for Chicago and seemed bound to stay in the bullpen until the struggles of starter Andre Rienzo forced the White Sox to make a change to their rotation yet again.

Carroll, however, has struggled in two starts since returning to the rotation. He’s allowed 12 earned runs on 19 hits over 11 innings in a pair of losses, including a clunker against the Angels last Tuesday. Carroll gave up seven runs, 10 hits and three walks over six innings in a 7-5 Chicago loss at home.

“You’re seeing the lineup more times, you’re throwing a lot more pitches and going deeper into games, so I need to be more efficient and make better pitches,” Carroll said after the game. “I’m trying to get to the point to where I’m consistent and translate what I had into the bullpen over.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Cubs matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Edwin Jackson 07.01.14 at 12:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox continue their three-game series against the Cubs on Tuesday night when Clay Buchholz opposes Edwin Jackson.

Buchholz (3-4) made his return to the rotation last Wednesday after being sidelined with what was called a hyperextended knee for the last month. Given how poorly he pitched prior to his trip to the disabled list, Buchholz was strong in his first game back against the Mariners. He gave up four runs on seven hits and had no walks in 7 1/3 innings in a 5-4 Red Sox win. The right-hander went at least seven innings for just the second time this season, and he threw 55 of his 76 pitches for strikes.

“I think there wasn’t a whole lot of thought going on out there. He was in the flow of the game,” manager John Farrell said after the game. ‘€œThere was a good feel for all four pitches he was throwing. No hesitation on his part. That’€™€™s a sign of confidence and a good frame of mind on the mound with that tempo.”

Tuesday will be Buchholz’s first career start against the Cubs. He’s pitched twice against National League opponents in 2014 and struggled in both games. He is 0-1 with a 14.72 ERA in interleague play this season.

Like Buchholz, Jackson (5-8, 5.22 ERA) has had his share of struggles this season. The righty has lost three of his last four starts and has only gone six full innings once since May 23. Jackson was especially bad in June, going 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA in 26 innings pitched.

Jackson took another loss last Wednesday when he gave up four runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-1 loss to the Reds.

“It’s a tough lineup and they’ll make you work,” Jackson said of the Reds after the game. “I thought for the most part I could contain them until the sixth inning, and then they busted it open. … You still have to get that first batter. It always jump-starts the inning when you get that leadoff guy on.”

Tuesday will mark Jackson‘s 13th career appearance against the Red Sox, but his first since Sept. 28, 2010, when he was a member of the White Sox. He took a no-decision in that outing after giving up three earned runs over seven innings in a 5-4 White Sox win. Jackson is 2-4 with a 5.49 ERA against the Red Sox.

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