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Red Sox starting rotation struggling after first 2 weeks, posting worst ERA in baseball 04.19.15 at 6:57 pm ET
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After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Going into the season it was understood the Red Sox wouldn’t have the best starting rotation in the game.

But, the worst starting rotation (by ERA) after two weeks? That wasn’t expected, or accepted.

Following Rick Porcello allowing eight runs in five-plus innings in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, through 12 games the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a combined ERA of 6.24, the worst in baseball.

Porcello, who had been the best starter to this point in the year, struggled with his command as well as the home run ball, allowing two homers en route to the eight runs in five-plus innings and his first loss. He’s now allowed five home runs in 19 innings so far this season.

“Just pitches up in the zone,” Porcello said. “Good pitches for them to drive. I’€™ve got to work better at getting the ball down.”

Of the 12 games the Red Sox have played so far this season, Red Sox starters have recorded an out in the seventh inning just three times, gone less than five innings three times, and have allowed more than seven runs four times.

The last stat is particularly alarming — in a third of their games this season, Red Sox starters have allowed seven or more runs.

Clay Buchholz allowed 10 against the Yankees, Porcello eight against the Orioles, and lastly Wade Miley and Justin Masterson seven against the Nationals. (For what it’s worth, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for four starts allowing seven or more runs all of last season)

Buchholz and Porcello were predicted to lead the rotation, but after the first two weeks the Red Sox have two players in the top-10 for worst ERA’s in the American League among qualifiers — Porcello (sixth, 6.63) and Buchholz (ninth, 6.06).

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, rick porcello,
Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman take swipes at ‘forever’ pace of Clay Buchholz 04.18.15 at 11:37 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his six innings, taking 102 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman
Saturday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Tillman at 8:46 am ET
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In the second game of this battle for the top of the AL East, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz out to the mound Saturday while the Orioles opt for Chris Tillman.

Buchholz got the ball in the first game of the season and put together a scoreless seven innings, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and one walk. His second start didn’t go as well, to say the least. The lanky righty started the final game the Sox’ series with the Yankees last weekend and only lasted 3 1/3 innings. He gave up nine runs, seven of which came in the first inning, and allowed nine hits and two walks, striking out three.

With the result, Buchholz has a 7.84 ERA through his two outings, but he said he’s “not going to let one start affect the way [he feels] about the year that [the Sox] are going to have or how [he feels].”

“He came out and tried to use all his pitches from the get-go, and at times looked to pitch a little too fine,” manager John Farrell added after Buchholz’s outing. “The walks along with some balls that were well placed. They squared a couple pitches up, and before you know it, it’s a seven-run inning. I know he warmed up sharp. I know he warmed up with all his pitches being executed. It was a different story once he got to the mound.”

Buchholz has 100 1/3 innings of experience against the Orioles, registering 16 starts against them with a 9-4 record. He has a 3.86 ERA when facing the O’s and has pitched three complete games against them as well, more than any other individual team he’s seen.

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Read More: Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz,
Buster Olney on MFB: Clay Buchholz ‘set off some red flags with some evaluators’ Sunday night 04.16.15 at 1:39 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB Thursday to discuss the Red Sox and their 6-3 start to the year, specifically their starting rotation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The second time through the rotation hasn’t gone well for Red Sox starters. The worst of those four starts was Clay Buchholz Sunday night in New York. Buchholz went 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. The Red Sox lost the game 14-4 to the Yankees.

“When we look at the Red Sox we wonder if you have front of the rotation type guys and [Joe] Kelly last Saturday was that good,” Olney said. “On the other hand, [Buchholz] on Sunday really set off some red flags with some evaluators in the building Sunday at Yankee Stadium and then people with other teams. They thought he quit. They thought his reaction during the course of the game, essentially not backing up bases on repeated plays, it was a lot like a kid who flipped over a board game when he was losing as a kid. I think it bothered folks with other teams.

“It will be interesting to see how he reacts, and I thought what John Farrell said after the game that that can’t happen, that is about as close as you’re going to see from John Farrell about direct criticism in regards to a player.”

The Red Sox offense is off to a tremendous start to the season, averaging 6.22 runs through the first nine games. Olney has been very impressed.

“Maybe the best lineup we’ve seen in recent years, maybe even better than that 2013 lineup because of the quality of the hitters,” he said. “The fact you have guys in the lineup who can do damage against good pitching. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval and the thing that jumps out at me is how they sort of work off each other. They learn from each other.”

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Read More: buster olney, Clay Buchholz, John Farrell, Shane Victorino
Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘Numbers don’t match the talent’ for Clay Buchholz 04.15.15 at 10:04 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning to respond to the criticism he’s been facing for his comments about Clay Buchholz. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling has received some backlash for what he said last week about Buchholz lacking the internal drive. The remarks drew criticism from the likes of NESN analyst Steve Lyons, who said Schilling should have taken Buchholz under his wing and told him what to do when they pitched together like Roger Clemens had done with Schilling.

Schilling said he talked to Buchholz but that he noticed a difference between young pitchers and how he came up in the game.

“You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do, and one of the things that you do as a veteran pitcher is you try and kind of lay a path of multiple options out for young [pitchers], ’cause there’s no one way to do this thing,” Schilling said. “I obviously was big into preparation and video and all that stuff and I would always pass that stuff along, but the thing that got me, and it wasn’t just Clay, but a lot of the new, younger generation of pitchers, when I was at the end of my career, they didn’t ask questions. It felt like the game stopped at the water’s edge, like, when they went home the game was over and now I have to go do stuff.”

Schilling also wanted to clarify that his initial comments had nothing to do with him rooting against Buchholz.

“I was just obviously giving my opinion,” he said. “But I think one of the things I always had issues with with younger players was the desire to win, to be great, and you don’t have to go throw stuff and yell and cuss and be a tough guy when you lose to want it. It’s just, it’s actions. What do you do between your starts? What do you talk about? And I’m not sure I ever really had a conversation about pitching with him.

“And that doesn’t mean anything,” he added. “That doesn’t mean he didn’t go to somebody else. … And Clay’s not a loudmouth like me. I mean, he wasn’t talkative, he was a young player, and he did right as far as trying to know his place and stuff, but again, I’m trying to think of an example. There are players who come up who the game just consumes them, and they’re grabbing somebody and talking and every piece of advice they can get. I used to ask everybody questions. We’d go to Baltimore, I’d ask Jim Palmer, and we’d be in Cleveland and I’d find [Bob] Feller would be at the park and [Bob] Gibson, everybody, [Sandy] Koufax and [Don] Drysdale and that was I just was trying to figure out why the best were the best.”

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling,
Closing Time: Clay Buchholz’s poor outing dooms Red Sox in blowout loss to Yankees 04.12.15 at 11:32 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday's loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Maybe thinking Clay Buchholz is back to his 2013 pre-injury form was a little premature.

After dominating the Phillies on Opening Day, the Red Sox‘ right-hander struggled out of the gates allowing seven first inning runs (six earned) en route to allowing a career-high 10 runs in the Yankees’ 14-4 win Sunday night to avoid a series sweep.

The Yankees batted around in the first inning as Buchholz allowed a lead off walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, followed by a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Brett Gardner with Ellsbury advancing to third. Carlos Beltran then hit into a fielders choice for the Yankees’ first run. Then, following a Mark Teixeira walk, Brian McCann reached on a Mike Napoli error, as he bobbled the ball on a play going to his right, which loaded the bases.

Alex Rodriguez would clear the bases with a double to left center field, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead, and things would only get worse for Buchholz.

He then allowed back-to-back home runs to Chase Headley and Stephen Drew to close out the first inning scoring.

In a normal situation, without a depleted bullpen following Friday’s 19-inning game and the inability to recall a pitcher, Buchholz may have been removed from the game, but he needed to take some heat off the bullpen. He actually settled down retiring seven of the next eight batters after the first, but struggled again in the fourth, allowing three more runs and thus being removed from the game in the inning.

Buchholz finished by going 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. It was his shortest outing since going just three innings May 26 in Atlanta last season, and he went on the disabled list after the start. It’s also worth mentioning the right-hander failed to back up the bases on a few occasions in the fourth inning.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka breezed through the first three innings, but had trouble in the fourth, throwing 38 pitches and allowing three runs. He finished the night going five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, which was enough to earn the win.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The Yankees’ bats broke out in a big way by totaling 16 hits and were led by Headley, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including the first inning home run.

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

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, hanley ramirez, Masahiro Tanaka
Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Masahiro Tanaka at 8:22 am ET
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The Red Sox will send Opening Day starter Clay Buchholz to the mound Sunday in the series finale against the Yankees as Boston goes for the sweep. He will be matched up against Masahiro Tanaka.

Buchholz gave Red Sox fans a sigh of relief in his first start of 2015. The 30-year-old righty pitched seven shutout innings against the Phillies on the way to his first win of the season. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out nine. On 94 pitches, Buchholz threw 65 strikes and was able to keep many batted balls on the ground. Of balls in play, nine were ground balls, seven were fly balls and four were line drives.

“It was good,” Buchholz told reporters after the game. “There was a lot of building up to this moment. I felt good all spring. It’s just another step, I guess. I was a little more anxious today than I have been for [other] first starts given all the attention to it. After the first couple pitches, it felt like a normal game.”

Throughout the offseason, the Red Sox rotation was criticized for not having a viable ace. Last year Buchholz went 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA and was the fifth starter for most of the season. While one game is not enough of a sample size to predict what will happen the rest of the season, Buchholz looked like the ace the Sox are looking for.

“Mechanically, I’m in a lot better spot,” Buchholz said. “I feel like I’m within my delivery with every pitch. Whenever I come out of it, it’s like … I feel it and I can switch on the next pitch rather than letting it go for an inning and coming in the dugout and having someone say, ‘This is what you’re doing.’ I feel like I know my mechanics better than I did at any point last year. Yeah, it just puts me in a better spot to command and throw strikes.”

In seven career starts in the new Yankee Stadium, Buchholz is 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He made three starts against New York last year, going 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Masahiro Tanaka, Red Sox,
Buster Olney on MFB: Dustin Pedroia’s power biggest takeaway from Opening Day 04.08.15 at 11:58 am ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on with Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox after their impressive start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox opened the season with an 8-0 victory over the Phillies, hitting five home runs — two each from Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez.

“The fact that Pedroia hit for power to me was the thing that jumped out,” Olney said. “Because I know all of last year — and look, nobody engenders more respect around baseball than Dustin Pedroia does, and people love the way he plays, but I heard it from a lot of people, whether it was scouts or other players, they wondered if Dustin was ever going to get back to being able to hit for any kind of power, because he’s had so many nagging injuries — wrist, hands, the whole thing — and that was a great sign on the first day that he was able to do something.

“When you’re playing the Phillies right now it is a little bit Christians and the lions situation because they are really bad. But that’s a great start for them.”

The much-maligned Clay Buchholz pitched like a No. 1, allowing no runs and just three hits through seven innings.

“We’ve seen it in the past, he’s certainly capable of pitching really well,” Olney said. “And you’re right, it’s a good sign, it doesn’t matter who you’re facing. You can only compete against the guys who are in front of you. … Everything that I saw, he looked in command. Most of the time you liked the tempo, which I always thought was a barometer when you watch Buchholz is how quickly is he working between pitches. The faster he works, the better it seems he is; the slower he works, the more uncertain he seems to be. The other day he seemed like he was very comfortable.

“It’s a great first sign from a team that needs, let’s face it, contributions from all ends of their rotation.”

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Read More: buster olney, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester
Curt Schilling on D&C: Rick Porcello extension stresses ‘Red Sox are all about length of contract’ at 10:09 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday to talk about Rick Porcello’€™s four year, $82.5 million contract extension, pitching and the importance of the health in the lineup. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Porcello is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Wednesday night, but the Red Sox were kind enough to give him a four-year extension on Monday. For a player like Porcello, who is regarded as a ground ball pitcher, the defense behind him becomes a huge part of his success or failure. Though that can create some uncertainty about his performance going forward, Schilling said teams have been making moves to adjust to this.

“Defensively you have to catch the balls,” Schilling said. “The challenge for me is there’s a lot of coin flip to a guy that relies on defense to win. You can go out there and throw great and give up 15 hits in a game as a ground ball guy if the balls aren’t hit at people, but nowadays with the amount of advanced scouting and defensive positioning, teams are turning that into a science.”

While $20 million a year is no joke as a contract, Schilling noted that, although Porcello might garner relatively less on the market, the Red Sox are doling out extra to keep that contract on the shorter side.

“I think it’s another move that just reinforces the Red Sox are all about length of contract,” he said. “I think that the four years was the reason it was [$]20 [million]. He goes on the market, I think he ends up looking at five, six, seven [years] for 16, 17, 18 somewhere in there, but you pay to short that money.”

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling, rick porcello,
Poll: What was the biggest positive in Monday’s 8-0 Red Sox win? 04.07.15 at 11:12 am ET
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The Red Sox couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2015 season, beating the Phillies 8-0 and hitting five home runs in the process.

Besides two homers apiece from Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, Clay Buchholz went seven innings, not allowing a run and struck out nine. Mookie Betts also hit a home run in his first Opening Day start.

What was the biggest positive in Monday's 8-0 Red Sox win?

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez, mookie betts
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