Buchholz Aims for Win No. 2 as Boston Looks to Keep Rolling

Buchholz Aims for Win No. 2 as Boston Looks to Keep Rolling Oakland's offense sure looked meager on Monday night without Matt Holliday. Alternately, Boston's suddenly resurgent bats continued to thrive, courtesy of a 3-for-5 performance by leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury. Boston earned a much-needed 8-3 win, and after swiping two of three from the Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox look to keep their current hot streak going against the A's on Tuesday night.

When and Where
7:10 p.m., July 28, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.

Records
Red Sox (58-40, 2nd in AL East)
Athletics (41-57, 4th in AL West)

Skinny
Everyone knows Josh Beckett is a bona fide stopper, but how will Clay Buchholz fare as he makes his third big league start of the season? If the Sox can snag a win, they can earn at least a series split with the reeling Athletics. Ever since last week’s epic display of offensive futility, the Boston bats have been a bit more effective, racking up 20 runs in four games during their 3-1 span. They need to keep that momentum going in order to keep pace with the Yankees, who won yet again on Monday night and have taken 10 of their last 11 decisions.

Starting Lineups

A's Red Sox
Adam Kennedy, 3B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Nomar Garciaparra, DH Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Jack Cust, RF David Ortiz, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C Jason Bay, LF
Ryan Sweeney, CF J.D. Drew, RF
Tommy Everidge, 1B Mike Lowell, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B George Kottaras, C
Eric Patterson, LF Nick Green, SS

Pitching Matchup
Clay Buchholz (1-1, 3.72) vs. Vin Mazzaro (2-7, 4.75 ERA)

Which version of Buchholz will show up on Tuesday night: the one who was nearly untouchable against Toronto in his first start, or the one who struggled to get through four innings in his second outing? Boston seems to believe that the former is the version that is here to stay — that would explain Theo Epstein’s reluctance to trade the young right-hander. But two starts isn’t enough to make a fair assessment about his effectiveness. In a loss to Texas last time out, Buchholz allowed three runs on six hits in four innings. But the good news for him is that for the first time this year, he’s back at Fenway on Tuesday, where he’s 4-2 lifetime with a 3.02 ERA.

Mazzaro hasn’t fared all that well during his rookie campaign. He has allowed 66 hits in just 55 innings of work, and has 40 strikeouts to go along with 21 walks. In his last start against New York, he lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed six runs. He has earned the loss in seven of his last eight appearances. But knowing Boston’s recent track record against rookie pitchers, he could fare well at the Fens. 

Stat Sheet
Red Sox

Boston has not played a four-game set against Oakland since July 13-16, 2006 — and the Sox haven’t won a four-game set against Oakland since 1996.

Boston is 151-85 all-time against Oakland at Fenway Park.

The AL West is the only division Boston has a losing record against in 2009 at 9-16.

Ellsbury is hitting .500 over his last four games and has seven hits in his last three games.

Newcomer Adam LaRoche is hitting .417 in three games with Boston.

Prior to Monday's game, right-fielder J.D. Drew was hitting .145 in July.

In his last 16 games (not including Monday’s affair), Dustin Pedroia was hitting .397 with eight doubles and 13 runs scored. In eight of those games, Pedroia has registered at least two hits.

Boston’s bullpen had not allowed a run in eight games since the All-Star break. In 24 innings, relievers have notched 23 strikeouts and walked just eight batters.

Boston will retire Jim Rice’s jersey (No. 14) during Tuesday’s pregame ceremony. It will be the seventh number to be retired by the franchise.

Athletics
Former Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera is three doubles away from 400 in his career and is seven stolen bases away from 200.

As of Monday, Kurt Suzuki is hitting .370 against Boston pitching this season and has hit safely in all 18 games he has played against Boston.

Oakland has lost 19 of its last 29 games and 27 of its last 42.

The Athletics’ 41-57 mark is the third worst in the AL and the fifth worst among all major league teams.

Despite that, as of Monday, the A’s are hitting .292 in July — good for the second-highest average in the league.

Counting Trevor Cahill’s start on Monday night, rookie pitchers have made 66 starts for the A's this season, which ties Oakland’s 1979 squad for the most in team history.

Black and Blue
Red Sox

Jeff Bailey is on the 15-day DL with a high ankle sprain and could return in early August.

All-Star pitcher Tim Wakefield is on the 15-day DL with a lower-back strain.

Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the 15-day DL with weakness in his right shoulder. He is expected to continue his rehab in Florida.

Athletics

First baseman Daric Barton is day-to-day with a strained hamstring and could soon make a trip to the DL.

First baseman Jason Giambi is on the 15-day DL and out indefinitely with a strained quad.

Right-handed pitcher Justin Duchscherer is on the 60-day DL after elbow surgery, but could return in early August.

This Date in Red Sox History
July 28, 2000: Playing in Oakland, Pedro Martinez strikes out 11 A's in seven innings before Rich Garces and Derek Lowe close out a 4-1 victory. Nomar Garciaparra and Ed Sprague homer for the Sox.

Overheard
“I listen to the talks. I don’t listen to the radio, but I talk to Theo. Some of the people I hear talked about on the radio — you guys have no idea.”
— Red Sox manager Terry Francona, on Boston.com, on absurd trade speculation leading up to the deadline

Press Box
Red Sox

The Sox' 14 hits sparked an 8-3 win.

Will Buchholz soon be on the move?

Boston may be planning a blockbuster deal.

Athletics
The Red Sox broke out the lumber against A's.

A trip to the DL could be in Barton's future.

Rickey Henderson's family is glowing with pride.

MLB
San Francisco snags Ryan Garko from the Indians.

A.J. Burnett shines against the Rays.

Pedro Martinez is likely to make a Triple-A start on Friday.

Outlook
A week ago at this time, Boston was flailing, but it seems the team has been able to turn things around to begin a tough, pre-trade deadline week which can blindside teams with unexpected personnel changes. With all the uncertainty flowing through the Red Sox clubhouse — and a certain young Texan pitcher’s name repeatedly popping up in trade rumors — will the team (and Buchholz) be able to keep their focus enough to get the job done against Oakland?

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