Red Sox Need Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitching to Pick Them Up in Oakland Series

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Red Sox Need Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitching to Pick Them Up in Oakland Series There are still 12 games remaining before July comes to an end, so the term "must-win game" might be a bit premature.

But the Red Sox, losers of eight of 11 and sinking in the American League East, could use a few positive outcomes when they visit the surging Oakland Athletics this week.

Here are a few keys to Boston finding success out West.

Start Me Up

Until the once-potent offense wakes up from its doldrums, the Sox need their starters to keep them in games. It happened the last two games against Texas, which was limited to six runs by John Lackey and Jon Lester over the weekend in Fenway Park.

However, an inconsistent Daisuke Matsuzaka, a slumping Tim Wakefield and a just-back-from-the-DL Clay Buchholz each present questions entering their outings in this series.

Oakland? More like Choke-land
The Coliseum has been a house of horrors of late for Boston. They are 8-15 there in the last five years. Included in that run was a pair of losses to start a three-game series last April, the second of which dropped the Sox to 2-6 on the season and sent Matsuzaka to the DL.

The righty gave up five runs in one inning in that start. After he left, Boston's bullpen threw 10 straight scoreless frames before an infield single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th gave Oakland a memorable 6-5 win.

Clay's Day

While several teams throughout the majors are seeking starting pitching as we approach the trade deadline, the Sox will get two All-Star caliber pitchers back this week, starting with Buchholz's return Wednesday.

The young righty almost didn't need to be placed on the DL and required only one short rehab start so he should be able to pick up where he left off. And where he left off was pretty darn good.

Since May 14, Buchholz is 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA. His return figures to provide a much-needed boost.

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