Monday's Red Sox-A's matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Tommy Milone

April 30, 2012 - 5:13 am

The last time the Red Sox were in the confines of Fenway Park was a moment that manager Bobby Valentine aptly described as "rock bottom." The team had just lost its fifth consecutive game, its second straight loss at the hands of the hated Yankees that dropped the Red Sox' record to 4-10. To pile on to the misery, the Red Sox had lost in excruciating fashion, surrendering a 9-0 lead heading into the sixth inning to ultimately lose 15-9. Now as the Red Sox return to Yawkey Way, the mood and fortune of the team is decidedly different, as it has used a seven-game Midwest road trip to turn things around. The team has won six of its past seven games to buoy its record to 10-11 and it hopes this recent wave of success can continue as it prepares to take on the A's in a three-game home series beginning Monday. The first game of the series pits Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox against Tommy Milone of the A's. Coming off back-to-back seasons in which he had ERAs lower than 3.50, Buchholz has had a rough go of things in the 2012 season. Through four starts, the 27-year-old right-hander is 2-1 but has an 8.87 ERA and has struggled with his command, as evidenced by his 10 walks to just 11 strikeouts. He has given up at least five earned runs in each of his four starts. Last season Buchholz made two starts against Oakland, posting a 1-0 record and a 5.40 ERA. One of those starts came in Boston, a June 3 game in which Buchholz went 4 2/3 innings and gave up five earned runs. That start proved to be something of an outlier, though, as Buchholz was consistently strong when pitching at Fenway Park, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.94 ERA. Two of Buchholz's 2012 starts have come at Fenway. Buchholz is 1-1 in those games with a 6.92 ERA. Perhaps more alarmingly, Buchholz has allowed six home runs in those starts. Against current members of the A's, Buchholz is relatively inexperienced, having only faced six players in the A's lineup for a combined 44 plate appearances. Two of the three A's players with double-digit plate appearances against Buchholz -- first baseman Daric Barton and catcher Kurt Suzuki -- have batted .500 against Buchholz in those plate appearances. The six A's players who have faced Buchholz collectively have a .316 batting average against him. Entering just his second MLB season, and first with the A's, Milone has been a pleasant surprise for Oakland. Through four starts, Milone is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts and six walks. Among Oakland starters, Milone has the best ERA and is tied for the most wins. The 25-year-old left-hander, due to his limited time in the professional ranks, has never pitched at Fenway Park nor faced the Red Sox. In 2011, Milone was significantly worse on the road than at home, as he had a 6.30 ERA in two road starts compared to his 2.25 ERA in three home starts. Heading into the 2012 season, Milone had just five career starts (all with the Nationals). Milone has never faced a member of the Red Sox lineup. A's vs. Buchholz (RHP) Daric Barton (11 plate appearances): .500 BA/.636 OBP/.500 SLG, 4 hits, 4 RBIs, 3 walks Coco Crisp (10): .222/.300/.556, 2 hits, 1 home run, 1 RBI Kurt Suzuki (10): .500/.500/.600, 5 hits, 2 RBIs Cliff Pennington (8): .167/.375/.167, 1 hit, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Luke Hughes (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Red Sox vs. Milone (LHP) The A's starter has not faced any current Red Sox.