Clay Buchholz makes his return to the rotation for the Red Sox when they take on Oakland in the rubber match of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
Buchholz has been sidelined for almost a month with a left hamstring strain. He worked a quick rehab start Friday for Pawtucket and will give the Sox a much-needed boost, especially with the way Tuesday night's game went.
Boston lost all of a 4-0 lead and continued to leave runners on base before falling in 10 innings, 5-4. It was the club's ninth loss in 13 games and came on a night that both New York and Tampa Bay had been defeated. Gio Gonzalez, one of four straight lefties the Sox will face through Friday, goes for the A's.
WHEN AND WHERE
Red Sox (53-41) at Athletics (47-47) Wednesday, July 21, 3:35 p.m. Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Sox are 9-16 in Oakland over the last six seasons.
It was early in a start at San Francisco on June 26 that Buchholz pulled up lame running the bases. The hamstring strain knocked him out for nearly a month and robbed him of an appearance in the All-Star game.
The Sox were careful in not rushing Buchholz back too early, but he said he felt ready to go after a rehab start last week with Pawtucket. He'll be hoping to pick up where he left off — the 25-year-old is 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA since May 14.
Buchholz is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA on the road.
Roughly one year younger than Buchholz is Gonzalez, who is really coming into his own. He is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last five starts.
Gonzalez gave up three runs in five innings against Boston at Fenway Park on June 1.
Darnell McDonald, LF Jed Lowrie, SS David Ortiz, DH Kevin Youkilis, 1B Adrian Beltre, 3B J.D. Drew, RF Mike Cameron, CF Bill Hall, 2B Dusty Brown, C
Cliff Pennington, SS Deric Barton, 1B Kurt Suzuki, C Jack Cust, DH Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B Mark Ellis, 2B Matt Watson, LF Rajai Davis, RF Coco Crisp, CF
Boston is 3-8 in extra innings.
The first appearance that Tim Wakefield makes after next Monday will make him the oldest Boston pitcher to appear in a game. Dennis Eckersley holds the mark at 43 years, 358 days old.
Catcher Kevin Cash has hits in consecutive games for the first time as a member of the Red Sox.
Lefty Dallas Braden remains winless in nine starts since his perfect game on Mother's Day.
Oakland's bullpen has thrown 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the series.
The A's last four hitters Tuesday went a combined 0-for-14. The first five hitters Monday night went 0-for-17.
BLACK AND BLUE
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had a CT scan Friday that showed his broken left foot healing well. He was able to get rid of his crutches and put weight on the foot but has to keep a boot on it through the road trip, at least.
Right-hander Josh Beckett (back) threw an extended side session Tuesday. He will return to the rotation and start Friday in Seattle.
Catcher Jason Varitek also had a CT scan on his broken left foot Friday. He is a couple of weeks behind Pedroia in terms of his recovery and remains on crutches.
Catcher Victor Martinez played catch Sunday for the first time since breaking his left thumb last month, but still felt pain. He has been fitted with a protective shield.
Outfielder Jeremy Hermida (broken rib) went 1-for-4 while playing left field in his second rehab game for Pawtucket on Tuesday. He is expected to be activated in Seattle on Thursday.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is in Florida continuing to rehab from a broken rib with the club's Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Mike Lowell got a cortisone shot in his right hip Monday and is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Pawtucket on Thursday.
Infielder Jed Lowrie is expected to be activated from the 60-day DL on Wednesday. He has been out since contracting mononucleosis.
Righty Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
Outfielder Conor Jackson is on the DL with a strained right hamstring.
Outfielder Ryan Sweeney was placed on the DL on Monday with issues in both knees.
Lefty Brett Anderson may return to the rotation at the end of the week. He has been on the DL with left elbow tendinitis.
Outfielder Travis Buck is on the DL with a strained right oblique.
Right-hander Joey Devine and left-hander Josh Outman are both working their way back from Tommy John surgery.
Righty Justin Duchscherer is out for the season following hip surgery.
DH Eric Chavez is on the 60-day DL with bulging neck disks. He may return in September.
Many observers labeled Buchholz the MVP of the Red Sox at the time of his injury. His return is no small development and may give the club what it needs to put a difficult loss in the rear-view mirror.
One thing Buchholz cannot count on is offensive support. Boston has now been held to five runs or less in 12 out of 13 games, including eight straight. It has scored four runs or fewer in the last seven.