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Red Sox notes: John Farrell talks urgency surrounding Clay Buchholz; Henry Owens to make next start 05.01.16 at 6:44 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

Clay Buchholz is winless on the season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

The question was in regard to how Red Sox manager John Farrell viewed his team’s first month of the season, one that it finished at 14-10.

But within the answer, the Red Sox’ biggest uncertainty to date was surfaced: Clay Buchholz?

“Finished better than we started,” said Farrell of his club’s first month. “I think the biggest thing is the guys in our lineup have developed that trust in one another. I the fact that we’ve added to the depth of power arms in our bullpen. We still have room for improvement, we know that. We’ve got to get Clay going, particularly. He’s an important part of our rotation, an important part of this team. We’ve got to get him on track. But this last turn to two turns through the rotation has been more consistent, we’ve been able to give our guys in the bullpen a little bit more regular rest. But there’s some elements to our offense that have been very, very encouraging. The all-field approach and the way we’ve run the bases has been very consistent.”

As Farrell noted, getting Buchholz going would seem to be of the utmost priority considering the rest of the starting rotation’s ERA is a full run better on days the righty doesn’t pitch.

The Red Sox are 0-5 in games started by Buchholz, who has allowed five runs in four of his five outings. The righty’s ERA stands at 6.51.

“I can’t say that it’s a glaring thing from a mechanical standpoint,” Farrell noted. “There are times when we’ve seen Clay execute pitches with a greater conviction to the pitch. There are other times where maybe he’s pitched away from contact maybe a little bit too much, and not attacked the strike zone. To me, there comes a point, or an attitude on the mound, that’s got to be prevailing.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz struggles as Red Sox drop finale vs. Braves 04.28.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed five runs over 6 1/3 innings Thursday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

Clay Buchholz allowed five runs over 6 1/3 innings Thursday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

When David Price tied his personal record with 14 strikeouts Monday night, many said to consider the opponent. Good pitchers should perform well against the Braves, who entered Thursday ranked 29th in the league with a .224 batting average.

Well, if a great outing against the Braves isn’t that great, a subpar outing against the Braves is bad. Such was Clay Buchholz’s night Thursday at Fenway Park.

Looking for his first win of the season, Buchholz allowed five earned runs on eight hits with four walks and two strikeouts over 6 1/3 inning of work. He struggled out of the gate, allowing one run in the first inning and two more in the third, which proved to be more than Boston’s offense could match.

Buchholz saw his ERA rise to 6.51 and was the losing pitcher in Boston’s 5-2 loss to the Braves. On the season, his record stands at 0-3.

The Sox were quiet offensively through an eight-hit performance. Braves starter Jhoulys Chacin kept the Sox offense in check for five innings (two earned runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts) before giving way to an Atlanta bullpen that allowed two hits over the final four innings.

Closing Time note

Thursday’s loss saw the Red Sox fail to complete a home-and-home sweep of the four games played against the Braves this week. It also ended Boston’s four-game winning streak.

The Red Sox will host the Yankees Friday in the first game of a three-game set at Fenway.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Braves matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Jhoulys Chacin at 8:29 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Looking for a sweep of their four-game set with the Braves, the Red Sox send Clay Buchholz to the mound Thursday night against right-hander Jhoulys Chacin.

Through four starts, Buchholz has yet to register a win. His record sits at 0-2 to go with a 6.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He has just one quality start this season, and has allowed five earned runs on three occasions. In his last start Saturday against the Astros, he took the loss after going 5 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out six as the Red Sox went on to lose 8-3.

The turning point in the game came in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, when Buchholz appeared to miss his spot on a fastball to Colby Rasmus, who took full advantage by knocking it out of the park for a grand slam.

“It’s a really good pitch whenever you’re able to throw it where you want to, but the ball was moving a lot today,” Buchholz said after the game. “For the most part felt like I did a pretty good job with executing the pitches I was throwing at times. Me and Colby faced each other a lot, he got me today.”

In two career starts against the Braves, Buchholz is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.900 WHIP. He has walked nine and struck out seven in 10 innings.

Chacin has only one decision through three starts this season, as he is 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. In his last outing Saturday against the Mets, the 28-year-old Venezuelan took a loss while giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five as the Braves wound up losing 8-2.

An eight-year major leaguer who played his first six seasons with the Rockies before appearing in five games for the Diamondbacks last season then signing as a free agent with the Braves in the offseason, Chacin has started two games against the Red Sox in his career. He is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA and 1.875 WHIP. He has seven walks and eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings of work.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Mike Fiers 04.23.16 at 7:50 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

A pair of righties will go head-to-head Saturday afternoon in Houston, as Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz will take on Mike Fiers of the Astros in the middle game of a three-game series.

Despite putting forth an impressive performance in his last outing on Marathon Monday, Buchholz did not come away with his first win of the season. He went 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Blue Jays and allowed six hits. He walked two, struck out two and left with the lead, but it was squandered by the bullpen. Although he has no win to show for it, it was a step in the right direction for Buchholz.

“In that situation, given the two prior starts, the last start going out for the sixth and not getting out — it’s good to have a start where you can look back at all the good things, rather than look back at what if he would have taken me out an inning earlier, or a hitter earlier,” Buchholz said after the game. “It’s good to have a good start. You would much rather win the start, but it’s good to get off on the right foot with one start moving forward.”

Added Buchholz: “With the lineup that we faced these four games is not an easy lineup to pitch around any one person to get to the next guy. I felt really good with just about everything. My curveball came to me a little later. The fastball-changeup-cutter mix was probably the best I’ve felt.”

In four career starts against the Astros, Buchholz is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 0.796 WHIP. He has four walks and 39 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings of work.

Fiers is 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. In his last start on Sunday against the Tigers, he picked up his first win after going 5 2/3 innings and allowing four earned runs on seven hits. He walked none, stuck out five and allowed three home runs in a game the Tigers wound up winning 5-4.

“My team picked me up,” Fiers said after the win. “It’s a bad start for me. I kept us in the game, but these guys played great defense for me and hit as well. I think they picked me up today for use.”

Saturday will be Fiers’ first time pitching against the Red Sox. The 30-year-old played his first 3 1/2 seasons with the Brewers before being sent to Houston at the trade deadline last year.

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Despite Red Sox loss, Clay Buchholz gets back on track with 6 2/3 scoreless innings 04.18.16 at 3:48 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and got a no-decison. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and got a no-decison. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

If there was one bright spot in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays, it would be the performance of starter Clay Buchholz.

In his third start of the year, the right-hander threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and left with a 1-0 lead, but the bullpen allowed four eighth innings runs to spoil the dominant start to leave him with a no-decision.

Buchholz went 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing six hits, while walking two and striking out two. After allowing five earned runs in each of his previous two starts this season, Monday was much-needed.

“I felt good despite being 11 o’clock in the morning,” Buchholz said. “It’s one of the things I have to get over. I am not the best morning person, I guess. I have to find a way to get mentally prepared and go out and try to win a ballgame. With the lineup that we faced these four games is not an easy lineup to pitch around any one person to get to the next guy. I felt really good with just about everything. My curveball came to me a little later. The fastball-changeup-cutter mix was probably the best I’ve felt.”

The key for Buchholz was inducing four double-play balls, which tied a career-high and were the most by a Red Sox starter since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008. He credited his two-seamer for getting all the groundballs, which he said he spent a lot of time working on in between starts.

Buchholz lowered his ERA from 10.00 to 5.74. He said he really didn’t change much from his previous starts.

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Closing Time: Koji Uehara, Craig Kimbrel can’t hold lead as Red Sox fall to Blue Jays on Patriots’ Day at 2:19 pm ET
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It was a rough eighth inning for Koji Uehara. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

It was a rough eighth inning for Koji Uehara. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Evidently, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel are not morning, or early afternoon people.

The two combined to allow four runs in the eighth inning, as the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays, 4-3 on Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park.

With a 1-0 lead in the eighth, Koji Uehara allowed the first batter of the inning to reach on an infield single, but Josh Rutledge’s throw went into the camera-well allowing Kevin Pillar to reach second.

After a walk and a passed ball, Michael Saunders hit a grounder to Xander Bogaerts on the right side of second base, and after appearing to have a play at home, opted to throw to first for the first out of the inning, which tied the score at one. Uehara then walked Jose Bautista to load the bases with no outs, ending Uehara’s day.

In came closer Craig Kimbrel, who struck out Edwin Encarnacion for the second out, but then walked Troy Tulowitzki to allow the second run to score and finally allowed a two-run single to Russell Martin making it a 4-1 game.

The bullpen ruined a masterful start by Clay Buchholz, as the right-hander went 6 2/3 shutout innings. He was aided by inducing four double plays, which were the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008.

Overall, he went 6 2/3 innings, not allowing a run on six hits, while walking two and striking out two on 97 pitches.

Lefty J.A. Happ shut down the Red Sox lineup, limiting them to just a run on four hits over seven-plus innings.

The Red Sox scored their first run in the second inning on a two-out double by Josh Rutledge, which scored Hanley Ramirez, who also doubled earlier in the frame. They made it 4-3 in the ninth on a two-out double by Travis Shaw and a single by Ramirez, but pinch-hitter David Ortiz ended the game with the tying run on base.

Closing Time note

Happ was the first left-handed starter the Red Sox have faced all year. It was the furthest into a season without an opposing left-hander since 1996 when the Red Sox faced the Orioles’ David Wells in Game 13.

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

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ at 7:30 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz will take the hill Monday and try to give Red Sox fans something to cheer about in the annual Patriots Day morning start. He is set to face off against Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ.

Coming into his third start of the season, Buchholz does not exactly have momentum on his side. In each of his first two starts he allowed five runs. Looking specifically at his last start — April 12 against the Orioles — he was hit hard. He gave up five earned runs over five innings, allowing five hits (two home runs), walking three and striking out five. He took the loss, as the Orioles posted a 9-5 victory.

“I felt like I had good stuff,” Buchholz said after the loss. “I felt like I threw the ball pretty well tonight. Two home runs got me.”

In 27 career starts against the Blue Jays plus one relief appearance, Buchholz is 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.231 WHIP, recording 125 strikeouts and 66 walks in 174 2/3 innings.

Happ, who is back for his second stint in Toronto after pitching for the Mariners and Pirates last year, has been solid through two starts this season. The 10-year major league veteran picked up his first win of the season in his last outing on April 13 against the Yankees. He went six innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just one earned run. He walked three and struck out four in a game the Blue Jays won 7-2. He got out of several jams throughout the game, stranding seven Yankees runners.

“The best thing about tonight was being able to make some pitches in big situations,” Happ said afterward.

Added Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira: “I thought he pitched very well against us. He really mixed it up in and out, up and down, kept us off balance.”

Happ, 33, has made 10 appearances against the Red Sox, including nine starts, going 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.481 WHIP, recording 40 strikeouts and 28 walks in 52 innings.

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Curt Schilling on D&C: Expectations need to be altered with Clay Buchholz 04.14.16 at 12:30 pm ET
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Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling, making his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox, specifically Clay Buchholz and Pablo Sandoval. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

There was some optimism with Buchholz heading into the season, but he’s allowed five earned runs in each of his two starts this season. Schilling said the expectations of him need to be altered.

“We need to move on from an expectations perspective,” Schilling said. “Here is the thing, sometimes you are what you are. Clay Buchholz was not going to come out of the gates this year and throw 222 innings, win 19 games and make 33 starts. He’s never done it. I am convinced, and this is not a personal thing, I like Clay, it’s just he’s not the guy. That no-hitter skewed it all. We go back to one game and a couple stretches where he was as good as anyone in the game, but that is something he ended up not wanting bad enough to make it happen.”

Regarding Sandoval, Schilling feels he could have played his last game as a member of the Red Sox, but he doesn’t expect the team to flat out release him. He believes they are doing everything in their power to trade him.

“I don’t think they [release him] because there is some history there,” he said. “The guy — other than David [Ortiz] — the history in October, experience and success, Pablo has not just played and done well, he’s excelled in the postseason. There is a skinnier guy in there. You’ve seen him. You just have to figure out how to get back to that place.”

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Clay Buchholz not concerned about Red Sox starting rotation’s struggles: ‘There shouldn’t be anyone worried’ 04.12.16 at 11:32 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz isn't concerned with how the Red Sox have started. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz isn’t concerned with how the Red Sox have started. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Through the first seven games of the season, the Red Sox’ starting rotation has an ERA of 7.04, which is the worst in the American League.

This many be cause for concern for some, but not Clay Buchholz.

“We’re seven games in, dude,” Buchholz said after the Red Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Orioles Tuesday. “There shouldn’t be anyone worried. We have the best pitcher in the world right now on our team. Things happen and we’re playing against the best guys playing in the world too.

“It’s just one of those things, you get off to a slow start, so be it. I’d rather finish strong than start off strong and then — you want to go off in the middle. We have a lot more games to play.”

Even with having ace David Price — who Buchholz was referring to — make two starts, Red Sox starters have recorded a combined two outs after the sixth inning in the seven games.

While Buchholz isn’t panicking, manager John Farrell acknowledged as a group the starting rotation needs to improve, especially when the offense is averaging 5.71 runs per game and the team only has a 3-4 record to show for it.

“We need to be better,” Farrell said. “That goes without saying. This isn’t a matter of stuff. I thought tonight we had a number of hitters where we had two strikes and didn’t put hitter away. Last couple of games we’re spotted a starter with a lead, but still, it is a matter of going out and executing pitches. The job of a starter obviously is going to require, two, three times through the order. That is going to require a mixture of pitches and consistent execution. The execution has got to improve.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz can’t hold lead, Orioles take down Red Sox at 10:33 pm ET
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Tomase, Bradford talk Red Sox panic following latest loss

Clay Buchholz couldn't hold the Red Sox' lead Tuesday night. (Mark L. Bae/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz couldn’t hold the Red Sox’ lead Tuesday night. (Mark L. Bae/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox got the good Clay Buchholz for the majority of his outing Tuesday night, but then the bad came and came quickly in the sixth inning.

With the Red Sox leading 4-2, Buchholz allowed the first four batters to reach in the sixth, including a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo and a double to Pedro Alvarez before being lifted from the game.

Noe Ramirez entered and allowed a sacrifice fly to allow the Orioles to take a 5-4 lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in their 9-5 win.

The Orioles are a perfect 7-0 on the season and remain the only unbeaten team in baseball.

With the game tied at two in the fifth, the Red Sox scored two runs to take the lead, although it didn’t last long as Buchholz labored in the next half inning.

On a night when gold “500” necklaces were given away to the first 15,000 fans in attendance to commemorate David Ortiz’s 500 home runs, the designated hitter launched a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Red Sox a quick 2-0 lead. It was No. 506 of his career.

He also added an RBI double in the eighth inning.

Closing Time note

Ortiz’s homer was his third of the season. The last big leaguer 40 years or older with three homers in the first seven games of a season was Hank Aaron in 1974.

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