Thursday's Red Sox-Twins matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Phil Hughes

May 15, 2014 - 4:24 am

The Red Sox will close out their three-game series in Minnesota on Thursday afternoon with Clay Buchholz taking the mound against Phil Hughes. Buchholz (2-3, 6.44 ERA) appeared as if he was finally returning to form this season after consecutive wins, including a one-run effort against Oakland on May 2 in which he allowed three hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work, but he followed it up with a clunker in Texas last Friday. Buchholz allowed six runs on 10 hits and a pair of walks to go with three strikeouts in an 8-0 Red Sox loss that was dominated by Rangers starter Yu Darvish's near-perfect game. "There were pitches up in the strike zone that they did a good job of staying through the middle of the field," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Buchholz after the game. "A number of base hits up the middle, they were able to bunch them, and then in the five-run fifth things got away from us." Buchholz will look for another bounceback effort against a Twins team he hasn't lost to since 2008 -- his first full season in the majors. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.22 ERA lifetime against the Twins, and took a no-decision in both starts against the Twins last season, both of which came in Red Sox wins. His most recent outing in Minnesota came on May 17, 2013, when he gave up two runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out nine batters. Buchholz could be in for trouble against Twins sluggers Joe Mauer and Kurt Suzuki. Mauer is batting .385 in 15 career plate appearances against Buchholz, while Suzuki's six hits and two RBIs has him at .500 lifetime against the righty in 12 plate appearances. Hughes has had plenty of experience pitching against the Red Sox after seven seasons with the Yankees, but Thursday will mark his first appearance against the Sox as a member of the Twins. Hughes's time with the Yankees wasn't always memorable, as the righty finished his stint in the Bronx with a 56-50 record and a 4.53 ERA, diminished by a 4-14 mark in 2013 in 145 2/3 innings pitched. However, a change of scenery has appeared to inject new life into the 27-year-old's career. Hughes has won his last four starts to improve his record to 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.28, going at least six innings in those outings. In his most recent start on May 9, Hughes tossed an eight-hit, no-walk shutout in seven innings of work to go with three strikeouts in a 2-1 Twins victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers. "They weren't all strikes in the zone. They were hacking," Hughes said after the game. "When you're around the plate and pop a fastball up every now and then, they're going to be aggressive and swinging at it. That's kind of what I am. Sometimes it hurts me a little bit if I'm around the plate too much, but when I have good stuff, it's usually all right." Hughes would like to turn around his career numbers against the Red Sox now that he has a different uniform. He's 5-7 with a 5.70 ERA in 22 appearances against the Sox, and has had particular troubles against David Ortiz. Ortiz has a .409 batting average in 27 plate appearances against Hughes, with nine hits, two home runs, three doubles, seven RBIs and four walks. But Ortiz also has struck out five times against Hughes. Mike Napoli (.556) and Mike Carp (.500) also have had success against Hughes in nine and 13 plate appearances, respectively. Red Sox vs. Hughes (RHP) Dustin Pedroia (30 plate appearances): 286 AVG/.333 OBP/.643 SLG, 3 HR, 1 double, 9 RBIs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts David Ortiz (27): .409/.481/.818, 2 HR, 3 doubles, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts A.J. Pierzynski (18): .167/.167/.167, 2 strikeouts Mike Carp (13): .500/.615/.900, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts Mike Napoli (9): .556/.556/1.222, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 strikeouts Grady Sizemore (6): .000/.000/.000 Will Middlebrooks (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts David Ross (3): .667/.667/1.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI Jackie Bradley has a double in two at-bats. Shane Victorino has a hit in his only at-bat. Twins vs. Buchholz (RHP) Joe Mauer (15): .385/.467/.615, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 walks Kurt Suzuki (12): .500/.500/.583, 1 double, 2 RBIs Trevor Plouffe (11): .100/.182/.200, 1 double, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Brian Dozier (10): .111/.200/.111, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Chris Parmelee (9): .286/.444/.286, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts Aaron Hicks (6): .333/.333/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Jason Kubel (5): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts Eduardo Escobar (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Eduardo Nunez (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk