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Monday, April 21, 2014

What's Up With Clay Buchholz?

There was a time when Clay Buchholz was one of the most talented starting pitchers in MLB. Of course, he could never really put it together for a full season based on his frail body and reluctance to play through any type of pain. Now, those days seem like a distant memory as he continually gets lit up (twice in four starts this season). Today he ruined what was a perfect Patriot's Day in Boston with the Marathon as the Red Sox fell 7-6 to the Orioles at Fenway Park in the four-game series finale which the teams split.

Buchholz (0-2) allowed six earned runs on seven hits in 2.1 pathetic innings. Boston (9-11 overall, 4-6 home) was down 6-0 in the third inning and almost completed another amazing comeback for the second day in a row but you can't expect that against a decent team like Baltimore (9-9 overall, 5-5 away) or any in MLB really outside of maybe the Cubs.

The frustrating part was that Baltimore didn't exactly crush hits around the ballpark, they just kept getting on base vs. Buchholz in the six-run third. Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis had RBI singles, a run scored on a fielder's choice, Steve Clevenger hit an RBI double and Jonathan Schoop ended Buchholz's holiday early with a run-scoring single.

Wei-Yin Chen (3-1) didn't have a great outing by any means but compared to Buchholz, he looked like Nolan Ryan in his prime. He went five innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks.

The Red Sox cut the lead in half with three runs in the fifth. Jackie Bradley Jr. started it off with an RBI double, Brock Holt (2 hits, run) had a sacrifice fly and Dustin Pedroia (2 doubles, 2 walks) played wall ball with an RBI double. David Ross made it 6-4 Orioles with a solo homer into the Monster seats, his first home run of the season.

Ryan Flaherty added an RBI single in the eighth for the Orioles which turned out to be a very important run because Mike Napoli hit a solo bomb in the home half of the frame and Boston could have put together a bigger inning if Xander Bogaerts didn't have a careless baserunning blunder.

Baltimore's bullpen is one of the things that will probably hold them back for contending for the AL East all season, personified by mediocre pitcher turned closer Tommy Hunter. Still, he got the job done today at least despite allowing a run on Napoli's ground out. Pinch hitter Mike Carp was the last out as he stranded Pedroia on third and David Ortiz on second. Ugh. The good news regarding him and the utterly useless Jonathan Herrera is that both should see much less playing time in the near future with Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks currently rehabbing in Pawtucket.

Boston's tour of the parity filled AL East (all five teams were separated by two games entering today) continues tomorrow with three games against the Yankees (11-8 overall) at Fenway. Then they have three in Toronto this weekend and three against Tampa Bay in Boston. The Red Sox-Yankees pitching matchups are Jon Lester (2-2) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (2-0) tomorrow night (7:10, NESN), John Lackey (2-2) takes on Michael Pineda (2-1) on Wednesday (7:10, NESN) and Felix Doubront (1-2) opposes not fat CC Sabathia (2-2) on Thursday (7:10, NESN).

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