Clay Buchholz

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, home runs help Red Sox bounce back

Rob Bradford
May 10, 2015 - 11:46 am

TORONTO -- New pitching coach. New Clay Buchholz. And, perhaps most important, a new offense. All of it added up to just the second win this month for the Red Sox, a 6-3 decision over the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre. With newly-hired Carl Willis looking on for the first time as the Sox' pitchers' mentor, Buchholz turned in one of his better outings of the season. The righty improved to 11-3 for his career at the home of the Jays, where he came into the series finale carrying 2.16 ERA. This time around, Buchholz allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking three. It lowered his ERA to 5.73 for the season. "It stinks to lose, regardless of the level you play at, it stinks to lose but I think everybody here takes it to heart," Buchholz said. "We're the Boston Red Sox and this team's built around winning. When you're not doing that or you're not getting the breaks, it sort of wears on you. But from the first at-bat, [a triple from Mookie Betts], the ball could have been caught but it wasn't so we took that as a break and started using that to our advantage and staying positive in there. Guys had really good at-bats." Helping the Red Sox starter was a Red Sox offense which jumped out to a rare first-inning lead. Thanks in large part to Mike Napoli's three-run blast, the Sox totaled a 4-0 advantage off of Toronto hurler R.A. Dickey before Buchholz even took the mound. When it was all said and done, every Red Sox starter except Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley had reached base, with Dickey having allowed six runs in his six innings. For an offense that had scored two or fewer runs in six of its eight games this month, it was a welcome change. SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Buchholz. While he wasn't spectacular, the righty allowed the Red Sox to hang on to their early lead without much worry. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at WHAT WENT RIGHT - Napoli's home run was a welcome sight for the Red Sox. Not only did it drive in both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, but it suggested the first baseman might be escaping his season-long slump. It was Napoli's third homer of the season, pushing his RBI total to 10. He has now reached base in five straight games. "The way we played today is the way we know we can play," Napoli said. "Contributions from everybody '€” defense, offense, the pitching. That'€™s the way we should play the game. That'€™s the way we expect to play the game every day. Hopefully this means good things to come." - Sandoval's two-run blast in the fifth inning gave the Red Sox and Buchholz some much-needed breathing room. The rocket over the right field fence was his third homer of the season, and continued his torrid pace against right-handers. The third baseman came into Sunday hitting .380 with a .968 OPS against right-handed pitchers. - Junichi Tazawa managed to escape his 1 2/3-inning outing without much incident, which is saying something considering his struggles at Rogers Centre. Coming into Sunday, the righty reliever had totaled a 7.88 ERA at the home of the Jays, with opposing hitters claiming a 1.265 OPS against him. This time he gave up just one hit. - Koji Uehara picked up his sixth save of the season, pitching a ninth inning in which he walked one. WHAT WENT WRONG - The Red Sox did manage to score two of their runners in scoring position -- on Dustin Pedroia's RBI ground out, scoring Mookie Betts (who had led off the game with a triple), and Napoli's homer -- but stranded four others. For May, the Sox are now 7-for-65. - Betts was picked off first base in the ninth inning by Toronto reliever Brett Cecil. It was the first time a Red Sox baserunner has been picked off this season. - Buchholz rolled his ankle a bit in the fifth inning, but proclaimed himself OK after the game. "Pretty sore, but all right," he said. "Going toward first base to cover first, ball hit to Nap and my left foot landed in the hole I was landing in going to home plate. Had my ankles taped fortunately so I think that saved me from being too bad."