Clay Buchholz, Red Sox Look to Seal Regular Season With a Sweep

Earlier this week, the Red Sox were limping into Fenway coming off a six-game losing streak; now, they've won three straight. The Sox will look to finish out the 2009 regular season on a high note on Sunday afternoon, and they've got one of baseball's hottest young pitchers on the mound to help their cause. In his final regular-season start of 2009, Clay Buchholz takes the mound to face the Indians as Boston thinks sweep.

When and Where

1:35 p.m. ET (NESN), Oct. 4, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.

Records

Red Sox (94-67, 2nd place in AL East)
Indians (65-96, 4th place in AL Central)

Skinny

The Red Sox head into their season finale with the Indians sporting a 6-2 record against the Tribe in 2009. They won two of three in the teams' first series in Cleveland back in April, and the two teams traded blowout wins at Fenway in May. Now the Sox look for the season-closing sweep at the Fens.

For the Indians, there's always next year. Their offense has shown flashes of brilliance but underachieved as a whole, and on the mound, this Tribe ball club has been an inconsistent, unreliable mess. There's definitely some potential in this Cleveland organization, but it just wasn't meant to be in 2009.

Starting Lineups

Indians
Red Sox
Luis Valbuena, 2B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Trevor Crowe, CF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Matt LaPorta, RF Victor Martinez, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, 3B Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Kelly Shoppach, DH David Ortiz, DH
Andy Marte, 1B Jason Bay, LF
Wyatt Toregas, C J.D. Drew, RF
Chris Gimenez, LF Casey Kotchman, 1B
Niuman Romero, SS Alex Gonzalez, SS

Starting Pitchers

RHP Tomo Ohka (1-4, 5.45 ERA) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (7-4, 3.74 ERA)

Buchholz may have gotten shelled by the Blue Jays in his last start, but he's still among the hottest pitchers in the American League right now. Tuesday's loss was his first in a month and a half, and Buchholz's ERA was a pristine 1.32 over a six-game stretch from Aug. 29 through the end of September. There should be little doubt now that the youngster is ready for the October pressure.

Remember Tomo Ohka? The 33-year-old Japanese import was a star in the Red Sox' farm system a decade ago — he went 8-0 in Trenton in 1999, and once promoted to Triple-A, he pitched the first no-hitter in Pawtucket Red Sox history. He's since bounced around to four major league teams — the Expos/Nationals, Brewers, Blue Jays and now the Indians. Ohka has been used mainly in a long relief role this season.

Stat Sheet

Red Sox
The Red Sox are 25-12 against AL Central opponents this season.

They have a .450 team slugging percentage, second-best in the AL.

Opponents are hitting .231 against Clay Buchholz at Fenway Park this season.

Kevin Youkilis has a .413 on-base percentage, second-best in the AL.

Jason Bay is third in the AL with 36 home runs.

Dustin Pedroia has scored 112 runs, second-most in the AL.

Jacoby Ellsbury leads the AL with 10 triples.

Victor Martinez had an .832 OPS with the Indians this season. He had 67 RBIs in 99 games.

Mike Lowell is hitting .307 at Fenway Park this season.

J.D. Drew
is a .138 career hitter against the Indians.

Indians
The Indians are 24-34 in day games.

Tomo Ohka has pitched in 17 games for the Indians this season, five as a starter and 12 in relief.

Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .306, ninth-best in the American League.

Shin-Soo Choo has a .393 on-base percentage, 10th-best in the AL.

Kelly Shoppach has been hit by pitches 18 times, leading the AL.

Travis Hafner has a .387 career on-base percentage.

Andy Marte is hitting .259 on the road this season.

Jhonny Peralta is a .234 career hitter against the Red Sox.

Black and Blue

Red Sox
X-rays on the injured right hand of Alex Gonzalez came back negative on Saturday. He should be good to go for the postseason.

Rocco Baldelli suffered a strained left hip flexor while running out a ground ball in the fourth inning of Friday's game. He will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Nick Green is day-to-day with leg fatigue. He hopes to return as soon as possible.

Indians
Asdrubal Cabrera, who was listed as day-to-day with hamstring tightness this weekend, returned to action on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 with a double.

Carlos Carrasco left Friday night's game with a leg injury. He is listed as day-to-day.

Grady Sizemore is out for the season. He is recovering from left elbow and lower abdominal surgeries.

This Date In Red Sox History

In 2003, the Red Sox began their comeback from a 0-2 hole to defeat the Oakland A's in the first round of the American League playoffs. The Red Sox won Game 3 in the bottom of the 11th inning when Trot Nixon blasted a walk-off two-run homer off of rookie Rich Harden. The Sox would win the series, three games to two, and advance to the ALCS to play the Yankees.

Overheard

"It felt kind of weird. I was like, wow, it took me so long, and then to see who I hit it off, it was just weird. I don't think it was [more] special because I have nothing against those guys."
–Victor Martinez, in The Boston Globe, after hitting the first grand slam of his career against the Indians, his former team

Press Box

Red Sox
Victor Martinez slammed the Sox to victory.

The Red Sox have some decisions to make about October.

How will the pitching staff look next week?

Indians
Eric Wedge
will take the blame, Cleveland.

The Tribe looks for a new manager.

A word of advice from… Albert Belle?

MLB
The AL Central is up in the air.

The Dodgers limp to the finish line.

J.P. Ricciardi
is unemployed.

Outlook

It's been a long season for the Red Sox, but they've persevered through it all and earned a berth in the American League playoffs. From here, every additional win is just gravy. Years from now, when the Sox look back on 2009, they'll never remember whether they won 94 games or 95 — it's all the same. But right now, in the heat of the moment, it would be a huge confidence boost for the Sox to tack on one more win and head into the playoffs on a high note. With Clay Buchholz on the mound, their chances look good.

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