Clay Buchholz dominated the Blue Jays on Monday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz makes case for Red Sox not to trade him in win over Blue Jays

John Tomase
June 29, 2015 - 5:37 pm
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Trade Clay Buchholz? Not the way he's pitching right now. Clay Buchholz earned the Opening Day start for the Red Sox, and then endured some of the same ups and downs to afflict the rest of the rotation. Unlike starters such as Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly (and Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, for that matter), Buchholz has clearly righted the ship. Needing a big outing from their best starter to open an all-important four-game series in Toronto, the Red Sox got one on Monday night. Buchholz dominated one of baseball's best offenses en route to a 3-1 victory. "He's been on a really strong run through the entire month, and tonight tops off the month that he's had," said manager John Farrell. "Eight very strong innings for us. On a night we needed a starter to go deep, he provided it. But he was outstanding. He threw four pitches for strikes. He threw some quality two-seamers in to their big right-handers to keep them honest. It was a constant mix, staying out of the middle of the plate. He was outstanding tonight." This one was all Buchholz, who lowered his team-leading ERA to 3.48 while improving to 6-6. He scattered five hits over eight innings, efficiently dispatching the Jays on just 96 pitches to give the Red Sox their seventh victory in 11 games. The timing couldn't have been better from a personal standpoint as well. Buchholz's name is share to come up in trade rumors next month, one year after Jon Lester and John Lackey got shipped out at the trade deadline. "I never even thought of that," Buchholz said. "I don'€™t know. It is what it is. I understand the business side of it. But like I said before, this is the only place I'€™ve ever been, but I'€™d like to be here as long as I can. That'€™s my job. If they'€™ve got to make decisions, I'€™ve got to make it tough on them. First start in the big leagues to now." Buchholz struck out Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson leading off the game to set the tone, and then got some help from his defense in the second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza chased down a Kevin Pillar double and fired to relay man Xander Bogaerts, who threw behind Russell Martin at third, which led to third baseman Pablo Sandoval winning the footrace and chasing down Martin from behind to apply the inning-ending tag. "It was a huge pickoff for us," Buchholz said. "I pitched against him for the last six or seven years on different teams and know what kind of player he is. He'€™s got pop, he can hit homers if you just lay one in there. He can run, plays the outfield as good as anybody, and is a threat on the bags, just all around player." The Red Sox gave Buchholz all the offense he would need in the top of the third when Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt sandwiched walks around a Mookie Betts single. The Red Sox have consistently found ways not to score in such situations, but this time Bogaerts delivered, plating two runs with a double. It's a good thing he did, too, because the next three hitters popped up, but Buchholz had all the support he'd need. The Red Sox added an insurance run in the fifth when Betts led off with a triple and scored on a Holt single. The Blue Jays rarely threatened from there, with Sandoval starting a key 5-4-3 double play to end the seventh and keep Buchholz's pitch count manageable enough to pitch the eighth. Closer Koji Uehara then closed things out in the ninth for his third save of the road trip, making a winner of a pitcher the Red Sox need more than ever.

"[Buchholz] had a couple of bumps early in the year, but he's been very consistent -- a guy that you know is going to give you six, seven or possibly more on a night that he starts," Farrell said. "He's doing that for us. It allows you to be a little bit more aggressive with a bullpen the day before he starts. That's comforting when you've got that kind of guy pitching as an upper end of a rotation guy."
PLAYER OF THE GAME: This one's not even a question. Clay Buchholz continued an outstanding run with one of his best outings of the season, silencing the Jays over eight five-hit innings. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Leadoff man Mookie Betts stayed on fire by going 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs. -- Shortstop Xander Bogaerts continued making a strong case for an All-Star berth with a two-run double. He entered the game hitting .351 with runners in scoring position. -- Left fielder Alejandro De Aza continues to be a revelation. He went 3-for-4 with a triple. WHAT WENT WRONG -- DH David Ortiz went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. -- First baseman Mike Napoli went 0-for-3. -- Catcher Sandy Leon missed a home run on a long foul ball and went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .152 on the season. (Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Toronto)
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