Red Sox-Pirates Live: Clay Buchholz Has Another Fine Performance, But Sox Fall 5-3

Clay BuchholzFinal, Pirates 5-3: That’s it, and that’s all, as the Pirates hold on to win 5-3.

The Red Sox had a chance in the ninth after getting the first two men on base. Prospect Blake Swihart looked to move the runner over, but he popped it up in front of the plate. The sure out was dropped, but that actually worked in the Pirates’ favor. Pittsburgh was able to turn a double play, which really took the air out of the rally attempt.  Xander Bogaerts finished off a couple of forgettable innings by striking out to end the game.

Mid 9th, Pirates 5-3: The Pirates threatened to add another run, but Brock Huntzinger was able to bear down and get out of the inning.

The 24-year-old figures to see time in Pawtucket this season after making a handful of appearances in Triple-A last season after spending the majority of the season in Portland.

Nate Baker is on for the Pirates looking to finish off the Sox.

End 8th, Pirates 5-3: Well, if for some strange reason Vin Mazzaro pitches like this all year, he will be an All-Star.

The right-handed reliever tore through the Red Sox in his two innings of work, posting two perfect innings. Not only that, he struck out five of the six batters he faced, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks. That’s pretty good to say the least.

Mid 8th, Pirates 5-3: Things just got ugly in a hurry for the Red Sox, and now they find themselves trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Junichi Tazawa got things off to a rocky start by walking a pair of hitters, which gave way to Anthony Carter. From there, the defense got real sloppy starting with a throwing error from David Ross. That led to another error from shortstop Xander Bogaerts that got the Pirates within one. They then tied the game with an RBI groundout from Josh Harrison.

Things got real ugly, however, when Pedro Alvarez hit a monster home run to right field, a two-run shot that gave Pittsburgh the 5-3 lead.

Top 8th, Red Sox 3-1: Junichi Tazawa had a good showing in his first 1 2/3 innings in this one, but he’s run into some trouble here in the eighth.

He retired the first man he faced, but he followed that up with a pair of walks, and that’s going to end his day with one out and a pair of runners on in the top of the eighth.

Anthony Carter comes in from the Boston bullpen to try and finish off the inning. Carter has seen a lot of work this spring, tossing 9 1/3 scoreless innings.

End 7th, Red Sox 3-1: Vin Mazzaro is never going to be an All-Star or anything like that, but he certainly looked very good in the seventh inning against a Red Sox offense that has gone dormant the last few innings.

Mazzaro struck out Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury before getting Shane Victorino to hit a weak ground ball to second base to end the inning.

Victorino is now 0-f0r-4 on the afternoon, and he’s hitting just .172 this spring, as he tries to find his groove after returning from representing Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-1: Plenty of Red Sox pitchers have had strong spring showings, and Junichi Tazawa should find himself on that list as well.

The right-handed reliever just worked a 1-2-3 inning, and he’s adding onto what’s already been a good preseason slate. He’s now worked 10 innings this season, and he’s allowed just two runs on nine hits with just one walk.

End 6th, Red Sox 3-1: Tony Watson worked the sixth inning for the Pirates, and he breezed through it.

The lefty reliever is expected to be a left-handed specialist at some point in his career, but he just gave a trio of right-handed bats fits in working a tidy 1-2-3 inning.

Pittsburgh pitchers have now retired 11 straight Red Sox hitters.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-1: Junichi Tazawa did his job upon entering the game in the sixth inning.

The right-hander got Pedro Alvarez to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Once again, we were lucky enough to see the slick-fielding ways of Jose Iglesias on the DP. He took the feed from Dustin Pedroia and quickly turned it over, firing to first to get the inning-ending twin-killing.

Top 6th, Red Sox 3-1: Clay Buchholz walked the leadoff hitter and then got a popup, and that will be the day for the right-hander.

Buchholz is done after 5 1/3 innings and 88 pitches. He allowed just the one run on the Garrett Jones home run as part of four Pirates hits, as well as one walk and five strikeouts.

Junichi Tazawa is the new Boston pitcher.

End 5th, Red Sox 3-1: Mark Melancon’s time in Boston was obviously forgettable, but there’s reason to believe he can be effective in his return to the National League.

He has good stuff, and he used that stuff to be a very solid reliever for the Houston Astros before coming to Boston. Now that he’s back in the NL with the Pirates, he’s looking to get back to that success.

He just turned in an impressive inning in the fifth, getting the middle of the Boston order to go in order, retiring Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks with a pair of strikeouts.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-1: Clay Buchholz has been good so far, but he was really good in the fifth inning.

The right-hander needed just nine pitches to retire the Pirates in order for his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon. Buchholz has mixed in his offspeed stuff very well today, and he really has the Pirate hitters off-balance at the moment. He got Clint Barmes and Oscar Tejeda with curveballs in the fifth for the strikeouts, and it was also the curve that Starling Marte hit a lazy flyball to right on to end the inning.

Former Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon enters the game for Pittsburgh after Tejada pinch-hit for Pirates starter Jeff Locke who had an unspectacular showing.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Jeff Locke, who is in contention for the fifth spot in the Pittsburgh rotation, would be wise to put together a few more innings like his fourth inning.

He made quick work of the Red Sox in the fourth inning getting Jose Iglesias, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino to go 1-2-3. Locke didn’t allow the ball to leave the infield getting a pair of weak groundouts and a popout to put together the strong inning.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Clay Buchholz’s line looks good so far, having just allowed the lone run in four innings of work, but it hasn’t necessarily been a breeze.

The right-hander is still looking for his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon, and he’s yet to retire the leadoff hitter. However, he’s done a very nice job of settling in and pitching from the stretch after allowing those leadoff runners. The Pirates are now 0-for-12 following those leadoff hits, one of which was the Garrett Jones home run in the second inning to give Pittsburgh its only run of the game.

The Pirates are making Buchholz work, though. He’s at 70 pitches through four innings, a rate that he’d probably like to see a little bit lower.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have both had some success this spring, and they are continuing that in this one.

Middlebrooks hit a high, deep fly ball to left with one out that bounced off the top of the scoreboard on the Green Monster that turned into a triple. He came around when Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined a single up the middle to push the Boston lead to 3-1.

For Middlebrooks, it’s the second ball he’s given a ride to in this one, as he hit a deep fly ball to center back in the first inning, a ball that reached the warning track before being caught by Starling Marte. It’s obviously good to see the third baseman putting good swings on the ball and generating power after suffering a wrist injury last season.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Clay Buchholz gave up a leadoff double to pitcher Jeff Locke of all people (the Pirates are going with an NL-style lineup while the Sox are using the DH), but the Red Sox starter stranded Locke.

Buchholz got a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning, getting Sterling Marte with a curveball and Neil Walker with a very good changeup. If Buchholz has that changeup working — it’s arguably the best pitch in his repertoire — he’s obviously going to be very tough. It all starts with fastball command, of course, but when Buchholz is really going well, it’s because he has that change working, especially against left-handed hitters like Walker.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox got another leadoff double in the second inning, and they took advantage of it this time around.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia continued a strong spring with a leadoff double off the wall in left, and David Ross brought him around with a single to right. Travis Snider misplayed the ball in right, and that allowed Jose Iglesias to pick up an RBI. The light-hitting shorstop grounded one up the middle for the go-ahead RBI single that gave the Sox a 2-1 lead.

Jeff Locke did a nice job of settling down, though, and worked out of a jam after allowing a single to Jacoby Ellsbury with just one out. He was able to retire both Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to avoid further damage.

Mid 2nd, Pirates 1-0: Clay Buchholz did a nice job of getting ahead of Garrett Jones 0-2, but the big first baseman did a nice job of battling and grinding out the at-bat. It paid off as Jones hit a blast to center field for a home run to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

It looks like Buchholz is going to be working on his offspeed stuff in this one. He’s featured a few changeups in the early going, and he used one of them to strike out Travis Snider. Buchholz was able to work out of the rest of the inning unscathed, and the Pirates lead 1-0.

End 1st, 0-0: Both teams waste leadoff doubles in the first inning, after the Red Sox can’t do anything with Jacoby Ellsbury’s double to open the bottom of the first.

Jeff Locke featured a pretty substantial load of offspeed stuff, mostly his loopy slurve, and the Sox couldn’t take advantage. A pair of groundouts and a walk followed the Ellsbury double. Will Middlebrooks gave one a ride on a 3-1 pitch with two outs, but he didn’t quite get enough of it as his flyout to center got to the warning track before Starling Marte hauled it in.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Clay Buchholz looked to be in trouble after allowing a leadoff double to Sterling Marte who was then moved over to third on a deep flyout to center from Alex Presley.

However, Buchholz was able to get a pop up and flyout to get out of the inning unscathed. Much has been made about Buchholz’s improved pace this spring, and you can see it when there are runners on as well — at least in that first inning. Buchholz is definitely working quicker, and you can’t argue with the results so far this spring.

Jeff Locke, a native of Conway, N.H., heads to the hill for Pittsburgh for the bottom half of the first.

Top 1st, 0-0: Clay Buchholz’s first pitch of the afternoon is a strike, and the Red Sox and Pirates are under way.

1:10 p.m.: Red Sox fans hoping to get a view of dynamic Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen on Saturday afternoon will be out of luck.

The outfielder won’t be in the lineup as he’s suffering from flu-like symptoms. The potential MVP is scuffling some this spring, as he’s hitting just .194 during spring training.

11 a.m.: John Farrell is sending out a lineup full of regulars for this Grapefruit League matinee.

Here’s how the Sox will start:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Will Middlebrroks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
Jonny Gomes, LF
David Ross, C
Jose Iglesias, SS

Clay Buchholz, P

Here’s the Pirates’ starting lineup:

Starling Marte, CF
Alex Presley, LF
Neil Walker, 2B
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Garrett Jones, 1B
Russell Martin, C
Travis Snider, RF
Clint Barmess, SS
Jeff Locke, P

8 a.m. ET:  Few Red Sox players have had better springs than Clay Buchholz, and the wiry right-hander will get his latest chance to continue his effective spring Saturday.

Buchholz takes the mound on Saturday afternoon at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers against the Pittsburgh Pirates as the spring schedule continues to wind down. The club has about a week of spring training games left, so this will be one of the final tune-ups for Buchholz before the regular season gets under way.

He’s been fantastic this spring. He enters Saturday’s tilt with the Buccos with a 2-0 record and a 0.68 ERA. The right-hander has made four appearances this spring and has thrown 13 1/3 innings. In those innings, he’s allowed just one earned run on seven hits and has 11 strikeouts. Opposing batters have hit just .152 against Buchholz.

Buchholz is scheduled to be followed by Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard and Anthony Carter.

Pittsburgh comes into this one with an 11-14 record. New Hampshire native Jeff Locke is expected to get the start for the Pirates. He’s 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA this spring.

First pitch (on NESN) is slated for 1:35 p.m.

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