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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz gets crushed, Jackie Bradley’s hitting streak ends in loss to Rockies 05.26.16 at 10:04 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz doesn't know what hit him as Dustin Garneau circles the bases after hitting a homer on Thursday. (David Butler II-USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz doesn’t know what hit him as Dustin Garneau circles the bases after hitting a homer on Thursday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It became apparent this wouldn’t be the Red Sox’ night on the first Sox at-bat of the evening.

Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., looking to extend the longest hitting streak in the majors to 30 games, launched a Jon Gray offering deep to right field. What looked like a surefire homer off the bat instead nestled into the glove of Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Bradley would hit another ball to the base of the center field wall later in the game with the same result, bringing to an end one of the most uplifting stretches of baseball in recent Red Sox history and halting his hitting streak at 29 games.

On the flip side, right-hander Clay Buchholz saw a streak of his own continue, and it might cost him his spot in the rotation. Buchholz allowed a trio of two-run homers and got booed off the field, taking the loss in an 8-2 defeat.

The Red Sox didn’t have a chance in this one because Buchholz didn’t give it to them. After David Ortiz gave the Sox a 2-0 lead with his 12th homer of the season in the first, the Rockies tied it on a Carlos Gonzalez homer in the fourth, and then took control with consecutive two-run homers leading off the fifth as Buchholz saw his ERA climb to 6.35.

The only drama thereafter was whether Bradley could extend his streak. He got his last chance leading off the eighth, but grounded out routinely to second on the first pitch. The game ended with Bradley on deck.

Closing Time note

Buchholz has now allowed 28 runs on the 12 home runs he has surrendered. Only two of the 12 have been solo shots.

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Clay Buchholz putrid in make-or-break start, allows 3 home runs to Rockies at 9:17 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Say goodbye to Clay Buchholz?

Taking the mound with his spot in the starting rotation on the line, the Red Sox right-hander instead imploded against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, done in by his nemesis — the long ball.

Buchholz allowed three two-run homers in five-plus innings. His final line, not surprisingly, was ugly: five innings, seven hits, six runs, all earned. He walked none, struck out two and saw his ERA climb to 6.35.

With Eduardo Rodriguez nearing a return, Buchholz is easily the odd man out of the rotation based on performance. His only hope was to pitch well and delay E-Rod’s return. Now, barring any physical setbacks for the young left-hander, there’s no point in saving the veteran’s spot.

Buchholz’s night actually started in encouraging fashion. He retired the first nine batters he faced before Charlie Blackmon led off the fourth with a single. And then things got hairy. With two outs, Carlos Gonzalez blasted a game-tying two-run homer to right.

The fifth brought more of the same. Gerardo Parra led off with a single and Trevor Story launched his 13th homer to center to make it 4-2.

Daniel Descalso followed with a single before scoring on the first homer of Dustin Garneau’s career. In the span of four batters, Buchholz allowed two singles and two homers while boos rained down from the very restless fans in attendance.

Manager John Farrell visited the mound with Heath Hembree warming, but not only let Buchholz finish the inning, he sent him back out for the sixth. When Gonzalez led off with an infield single, that was it for Buchholz, who left to a cascade of boos.

Was it his final start for the Red Sox for a while? We’ll find out soon enough, but at this point, there’s no point in arguing he deserves a spot in the rotation.

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Eduardo Rodriguez waiting in wings with new mechanics as Clay Buchholz makes start that could decide spot in rotation at 5:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox would love to see Eduardo Rodriguez on a big league mound soon. (David Butler II-USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox would love to see Eduardo Rodriguez on a big league mound soon. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

As we noted today, Clay Buchholz faces a do-or-die start on Thursday against the Rockies. If he pitches well, he likely keeps his spot in the rotation for at least another start. If he doesn’t, get ready for the return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

It really might be that simple, and Rodriguez feels he’s closer than ever to being big league ready, thanks to a change in mechanics inspired by teammate David Price that led to the best start of E-Rod’s rehab on Tuesday in Pawtucket.

Rodriguez went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, striking out seven and walking none in a win over Lehigh Valley. He didn’t quite have last year’s power, with a 92 mph fastball, but he attributed the Ks to something else.

“I can say it was better command,” Rodriguez said. “Every pitch was where I wanted. I didn’t push too much, force it too much to get more velocity. I was trying to throw the ball exactly where I wanted. Sometimes you need power, but most of the time you need to throw the ball to the right spot.”

Rodriguez has shortened his delivery, a la Price, in an attempt to keep his shoulder in line with home plate. With a longer delivery, he has a tendency to open up, he said, leading to misses high and wide to right-handed hitters.

“A little bit more of a side drop-step versus stepping back towards the shortstop in his case,” manager John Farrell explained. “He feels like it keeps him on line through his intended target with his front shoulder a little bit more consistently. I think if you look at the command of his pitches the last time out, there was some positive effect to that, but it is still kind of new for him. So there’s still, just becoming more second nature for him with that adjustment.”

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Rockies matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Jon Gray at 8:57 am ET
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In the Red Sox-Rockies series finale on Thursday night the Sox will send out Clay Buchholz in hopes of completing the sweep, while the Rockies turn to young right-hander Jon Gray to try to salvage a game in the series.

Eduardo Rodriguez made a quality rehab start on Tuesday in Pawtucket, pitching seven innings and allowing one run while striking out seven, which leads to speculation that Rodriguez will be joining the big league club soon and manager John Farrell will have to make an adjustment to the starting rotation. If Farrell decides to keep a five-man rotation, someone will get ousted. Buchholz has struggled this season and he will need a strong start Thursday to prove he should remain in the rotation.

Buchholz is 2-4 with a 5.92 ERA, one of the worst ERAs in the American League, and a 1.47 WHIP. In five of his nine starts Buchholz has allowed at least five runs. In his last time out he lasted six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Indians. In the third inning Buchholz gave up a three-run home run to Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly to Jose Ramirez. It was the fourth time this season that Buchholz has given up at least four runs in one inning.

“All in all it wasn’t a terrible outing, but it’s hard to swallow getting beat on home runs every time out,” Buchholz said afterward. “Keep pushing along and find a way to get through it.”

The 31-year-old right-hander will be making his first career start against the Rockies. In 12 career interleague starts Buchholz is 6-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Buchholz’s last interleague start came in April against the Braves. Buchholz went 6 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits, five runs and three walks while recording two strikeouts in a 5-3 Sox loss.

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox come up short against Indians 05.20.16 at 10:18 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season, Friday night. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz is still searching.

Buchholz took the loss once again, this time living on the wrong end of the Red Sox’ 4-2 defeat to the Indians on Friday night at Fenway Park.

And since he lasted six innings, and gave up three earned runs (four in total), Buchholz was tagged with his second quality start of the season. The problem was that the appearance included much of the discomfort that has accompanied too many of the the righty’s nine starts this season.

Buchholz allowed five hits and four walks, giving him more this season (24) than his entire 2015 campaign.

Yet, even with the methodical pace and lack of command, the narrative would have undoubtedly been different for Buchholz if not for Jason Kipnis’ three-run homer in the third. The blast came with nobody out, and landed deep into the right field seats.

“I’ve been around long enough,” Buchholz said. “There have been times I’ve felt lost and didn’t feel like I could get anybody out and that’s definitely not the case right now. It’s a matter of one at-bat or a couple walks leading up to one at-bat and giving up a big hit in that situation. That’s something I have to find a way to get better at.”

Kipnis’ sixth homer of the season was the ninth given up by Buchholz, who had been staked to a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox starter has now given up nine homers, which have accounted for 22 runs.

“I mean, the home run was a four-seam in,” Buchholz said. “I looked at it. It was a strike fastball. I wasn’t expecting a swing-in. I was thinking he was looking more out of the plate. Obviously he wasn’t. Other than that, I missed, even the first hitter of the game, [Carlos] Santana, tried to throw a fastball up, threw it up and he still hits it, so. It’s just the way it’s been going. All in all it wasn’t a terrible outing but it’s hard to swallow getting beat on home runs every time out. Keep pushing along and find a way to get through it.”

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Friday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Corey Kluber at 8:33 am ET
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In the first game of a three-game series vs. the Indians, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound Friday night to square off against 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

In eight starts this season, Buchholz is 2-3 with a disappointing 6.11 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He also has walked 20 batters this year, the 10th-most walks by a pitcher in the American League. In his last start, a no-decision, the right-hander allowed five earned runs and seven hits to the Astros in a 6-5 Red Sox win. Buchholz also let up two home runs in the game, one of them being a grand slam to George Springer.

In his nine-year career, Buchholz is 2-1 against the Indians with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He last faced Cleveland on April 6 in his first start of the 2016 season. The Texas native lasted four innings and surrendered five earned runs, six hits and three walks.

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John Farrell implies Clay Buchholz will stay in Red Sox starting rotation 05.14.16 at 7:36 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz is not getting the results the Red Sox need, or expect. But, evidently, he will be given some more time to find them.’

After the Red Sox starter allowed five runs on seven hits over six innings — marking the fifth time this season he has allowed five runs in a start — manager John Farrell made it clear the team’s intention was to keep Buchholz in the starting rotation.

“Well, we haven’t talked about that, and everything points to him making his next start,” Farrell said after his team’s 11-inning, 6-5 win over the Astros on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

There was some thought that Buchholz’s spot in the rotation might be in jeopardy considering both Eduardo Rodriguez (who allowed three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings, throwing 100 pitches, for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday) and Joe Kelly are on the cusp of being ready for major league action.

But the Red Sox seem intent on finding a good stretch out of Buchholz, who would have to give his consent for any minor league demotion since has five years of big league service time.

Buchholz, who allowed a run in the first inning on Carlos Correa’s solo homer, and then four more in the second via George Springer’s grand slam, saw his ERA rise to 6.11. He has continued to particularly struggle in the early innings, totaling a 10.69 ERA in Innings 1-2.

“Frustrating,” Buchholz said. “You play to win and we won so that cures a little of it. But yeah it’s got me scratching my head at points and then go on runs, the last four innings didn’t give up much of anything but the damage was already done. Like I said got to find a way to minimize the damage in the first couple innings.”

Buchholz did settle down in his final four innings, giving up just one hit.

“I don’t think I have to go back to the drawing board or anything. I’ve just got to figure out the first couple innings,” he said. “I’ve been, in my career, good at stranding runners and minimizing damage over a long period of time. I’m not getting any breaks right now as far as swings and misses on pitches you miss with. They’re all getting hit right now. I guess that changes over time but you’ve got to have confidence to go out there and change it rather than hoping for something good to happen. You’ve got to make it happen. And that’s where I’m struggling with right now.”

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Closing Time: David Ortiz’s 2 clutch hits lift Red Sox over Astros in extra innings at 5:21 pm ET
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David Ortiz homered and tied the game in the ninth inning with a triple. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz homered, tied the game in the ninth inning with a triple and won it with an RBI double in the 11th. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Saturday’s game belonged to David Ortiz.

After Xander Bogaerts singled with two outs in the 11th inning, Ortiz crushed an RBI double off the wall in center field to give the Red Sox a dramatic 6-5 win over the Astros.

It was a questionable decision to pitch to Ortiz with first base open after Bogaerts advanced to second on a wild pitch.

And that wasn’t his only big hit of the game.

Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth and two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. was on first and Ortiz at the plate. The slugger ripped a triple to left-center off Astros closer Luke Gregerson to tie the game at five.

But then even more bizarre than Ortiz hitting a triple, Hanley Ramirez tried to bunt with the game-winning run 90 feet away and was out with plenty of room to spare at first base.

“What makes David so good in those spots is, he never comes out of his approach,” manager John Farrell said. “His heart rate I don’t think really elevates that much — maybe at times when a strike is called against him. He’s hitting in those moments with such clarity. He’s done it so often that he’s extremely confident in those key spots.”

Ortiz finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs, falling just a single short of the cycle.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Collin McHugh at 8:14 am ET
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In a matchup of pitchers who struggled in April but have pitched better in May, Clay Buchholz takes the ball for the Red Sox opposite Astros right-hander Collin McHugh for Saturday’s afternoon game at Fenway Park.

Buchholz (2-3, 5.90 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) went 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA in five April starts — all Boston losses — but he is 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two May starts. In his last appearance, Boston’s 14-7 victory over the visiting A’s on Monday, Buchholz pitched five innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He surrendered runs in the first three innings before posting zeroes the next two, and he was surprised he didn’t get the chance to start the sixth after throwing just 87 pitches.

“I really didn’t know what was going on,” he said afterward. “I thought I got traded or something. I would have liked to have gone back out.”

He has started against the Astros five times, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.35 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.  He last faced the Astros on April 23, an 8-3 Houston win. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The big blow was a fifth-inning grand slam by Colby Rasmus.

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Clay Buchholz channels inner Josh Beckett in crediting offense for comeback win over Athletics 05.10.16 at 12:02 am ET
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Clay Buchholz credited the offense for helping him pick up his second straight win. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz credited the offense for helping him pick up his second straight win. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Although Clay Buchholz was able to win back-to-back games for the first time all season, it wasn’t his best outing.

Following allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings in his last start against the White Sox last week, Buchholz went just five innings against the Athletics Monday night allowing four runs.

After digging the team a 3-1 hole against A’s starter Sonny Gray, the offense bailed him out as they scored a season-high 14 runs in its 14-5 win giving Buchholz his second win of the season.

“If it could happen that way every night — the old saying Josh Beckett used to say, ‘You need 12 runs and airtight defense and I’ll take care of the rest,'” Buchholz said. “It was good to see the guys come out and hit the all as well as they did against a guy that not a whole lot of people hit the ball well against.”

Buchholz allowed a single run in the first, two in the second and one in the third before settling in for his last two. Khris Davis hit a solo homer into the Monster seats to account for the third inning run, which was one of the pitches Buchholz would like to have back.

“Other than really the home run and maybe a double to lead off an inning, I felt like I threw the ball pretty good,” he said. “Still have to work on guys in scoring position with two outs — try and bear down in that situation. Other than that, I felt like I got better as the game went on. Those last two innings were pretty solid with a couple of good defense plays behind me.”

Despite being at just 87 pitches, the right-hander didn’t go back out for the sixth inning, which was a bit surprising for him.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” Buchholz said. “Thought I got traded or something. I would have liked to have gone back out for the sixth, but I’m not the manager.”

Manager John Farrell said the decision was to help him further into the season.

“They pressed him in the first three innings,” Farrell said. “Likely could have gone deeper, but felt like with the number of pitches thrown, where we were in the lineup, coming to the fourth time through the order, wanted to make a move. We were well rested with the bullpen to set up for the next two days. Felt like we have some guys that could use some work.”

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