Justin Masterson(notes) was among the players the Boston Red Sox traded to Cleveland last year in exchange for Victor Martinez(notes), and the right-hander will get a chance to face his former team for the first time Wednesday night.
The subject of trade rumors in 2009, Buchholz has remained in Boston and will be looking to win his sixth straight start as the Red Sox and Indians continue their four-game series at Progressive Field.
Martinez has enjoyed his first series in Cleveland since the Indians traded him away July 31, going 3 for 8 to help the Red Sox win back-to-back games and run their winning streak against Cleveland to seven. The catcher is batting a major league-best .481 since May 19.
The Indians haven’t been as happy with Masterson, who has gone 2-12 since joining the team. He had lost 11 consecutive decisions before beating the White Sox on Friday, holding Chicago to one run in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-1 win despite walking six and allowing five hits.
“I knew it had been a while. But overall, I didn’t feel I pitched terribly, so I didn’t think about how long it was,” Masterson said. “I kept thinking I was on the right track, and that helped me stay in a good place.”
The Red Sox drafted Masterson (1-5, 5.46 ERA) in the second round in 2006, and he pitched well as a rookie in 2008, going 6-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 36 appearances - nine starts.
But with the team in need of an impact hitter last year, Boston sent Masterson along with two prospects to the Indians for Martinez.
Another 25-year-old right-hander, Buchholz (8-3, 2.39) has also been mentioned as a trade possibility at times, but the Red Sox’s decision to keep him has been vindicated lately.
Buchholz has already set a career high in wins, going 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in his last five starts. Friday night’s five-hitter against Baltimore was his first shutout since he no-hit the Orioles in his second major league start Sept. 1, 2007.
“He is a maturing pitcher and we’re seeing it right in front of us - and it’s exciting,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He’s putting it together. He looks confident, and he should be.”
Buchholz struggled in his only outing against the Indians, allowing six runs in three innings Oct. 4. Boston still won the game 12-7 to complete a four-game sweep, and the Red Sox are now 17-3 against Cleveland since trailing the Indians 3-1 in the 2007 AL championship series.
Following Tuesday’s 3-2 win, Boston (35-25) has won nine of 10 on the road and 16 of 21 overall. Red Sox starting pitchers, who had a 5.18 ERA on May 18, have a 2.60 ERA since.
Despite their surge, the Red Sox may be concerned about the struggles of second baseman Dustin Pedroia(notes), who is 0 for 8 in this series. The 2008 AL MVP is batting .175 (17 for 97) in his last 24 games, watching his average slip from .305 to .252.
The last-place Indians (21-36) have bigger problems, totaling three runs in the first two games of this series. They were limited to four hits in Tuesday’s loss, falling to 3-13 in their last 16 home games.