Friday's Red Sox-A's matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Dan Straily

May 02, 2014 - 6:04 am

The Red Sox will open up a three-game weekend set against the red-hot A's on Friday night, sending Clay Buchholz to the hill opposite Dan Straily.

Buchholz notched his longest start of the season Saturday in Toronto, going seven innings, even after a shaky first inning in which he allowed three runs on four singles, a walk and a wild pitch. Those would be the only runs he gave up all day, however, and he logged a quality start, allowing six hits and three walks while fanning three.

"€œI was almost too amped up for the start today at the beginning,"€ Buchholz said afterward. "€œIt was a continuation of how I was throwing in the bullpen. Everything was up and I wasn't finishing many pitches. I had some great defensive plays behind me to save some innings. I figured out a way to settle down after that."

The seven innings of three-run ball were an encouraging sign for Buchholz, who endured one of the shortest starts of his career against the Orioles on April 21, lasting just 2 1/3 innings. Buchholz shaved his ERA to 6.66 with Saturday's solid outing and earned his first win of 2014.

Buchholz hasn't had a lot of luck against Oakland in his career, going 2-2 in seven starts and allowing 24 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings.

With Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin both requiring Tommy John surgery, the Oakland pitching staff has had to rely heavily on some arms from the back end of the rotation this season. The Red Sox will see one of those such starters on Friday night in Straily, who comes into the series with a 1-1 record and 5.14 ERA in five starts.

Straily'€™s ERA is ugly, but the righty hasn't necessarily been as bad as that number indicates. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a sound 3.50, and he'€™s actually striking out more batters than he has in the past despite losing a bit of velocity; he'€™s averaging a strikeout an inning after posting 7.3 strikeouts per nine marks in each of his first two major league seasons. He'€™s also cut down on the walks, issuing free passes to just under 7 percent of batters, less than his 8.7 percent career mark.

What has really hurt Straily is the home runs. Though he'€™s been fairly lucky when it comes to balls put in play, sporting a .264 BABIP, almost 20 percent of fly balls given up by the right-hander have left the ballpark. With seven home runs allowed, he'€™s given up four more long balls than anyone else on Oakland'€™s staff, and has allowed more than anyone else in the American League. He'€™s given up home runs in every start so far, including two in his first outing and two in his most recent.

Going deep into games also has been an issue for the 25-year-old, who only finished seven innings in one of his five starts and was unable to get past the fifth in two outings. In his last time out, Monday against the Astros, Straily lasted 6 1/3  innings, allowing three runs (all coming by way of the home run) on four hits while tying his season high with seven strikeouts.

Straily has never faced the Red Sox in his three major league seasons to date, but former Rangers A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli have each gotten a few looks at the right-hander.

A'€™s vs. Buchholz (RHP)

Alberto Callaspo (21 plate appearances): .200 AVG/.238 OBP/.200 SLG,  1 RBI, 1 walk

Daric Barton (14): .444/.643/.444, 4 RBIs, 5 walks, 1 strikeout

Coco Crisp (14): .308/.357/.538, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

John Jaso (13): .167/.231/.250, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Josh Reddick (4): .667/.750/1.667, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 walk

Yoenis Cespedes has no hits in three plate appearances vs. Buchholz.

Craig Gentry has no hits in three plate appearances.

Nick Punto has a walk and no hits in two plate appearances.

Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris and Eric Sogard have not faced Buchholz.

Red Sox vs. Straily (RHP)

A.J. Pierzynski (10): .375/.400/.875, 4 RBIs

Mike Napoli has two strikeouts and no hits in three plate appearances.

No other Red Sox have faced Straily.