Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview


A year ago, Clay Buchholz won his first six starts and suffered one loss in 16 outings during an injury-shortened season for the Boston Red Sox.

Set to make his fifth start of 2014, the right-hander is still searching for that first victory.

Coming off one of the worst starts of his career, Buchholz hopes to rebound by continuing his road success against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Buchholz (0-2, 7.71 ERA) allowed five runs and struck out 47 while going 6-0 to begin a 2013 season that saw him finish 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA after missing three months with a neck strain.

It's been the complete opposite this season for Buchholz, who has allowed six runs twice - including all during a third inning he never finished in a 7-6 home loss to Baltimore on Monday.

Buchholz has had trouble regaining his arm strength after dealing with shoulder problems last regular season and fatigue issues during the playoffs.

"It feels like it's getting better," he told the Red Sox's official website. "I'm struggling with (late-inning velocity) a little bit right now. But that'll come together.

"It's still pretty early. We still have a lot of time left in this first half to pull it all together and go from there."

Buchholz certainly seems to have figured out how to pitch in homer-happy Toronto. He's 7-0 with a 1.11 ERA in his last eight at Rogers Centre, and he's only given up two career homers there in 66 1-3 innings.

He yielded two hits over seven scoreless innings of a 10-1 win in his only appearance there in 2013.

The Red Sox (11-13) recovered from a 3-4 homestand versus Baltimore and the New York Yankees with an 8-1 win Friday. David Ortiz homered as Boston set season highs with 16 hits and nine extra-base hits while sending Toronto (11-12) to a third consecutive defeat.

"We executed on all sides of the ball," said winning pitcher Jake Peavy, who allowed a run in seven innings. ''We need to put those efforts together consistently now."

Dustin Pedroia, who had a pair of hits, is batting .364 in the last eight games and is 9 for 21 in his last four at Rogers Centre.

He's 12 for 23 with four doubles and two home runs against Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.03), who is 1-3 with a 9.07 ERA in nine starts against the Red Sox - including 0-1 with a 9.13 ERA in five at home.

Morrow has yet to last more than six innings in any of his four 2014 starts. He gave up two runs in five while not factoring in the decision of a 6-4 loss at Cleveland on Sunday.

Ortiz is 7 for 17 with three homers and a double against him.

Toronto pitchers have a 9.00 ERA and have allowed six home runs and walked 13 during the team's season-high three-game skid that's come at home.

Juan Francisco homered and had two of the six hits Friday for the Blue Jays. He's 7 for 20 in six games since he was called up from the minors last Saturday.

Teammate Edwin Encarnacion, who went 0 for 3 with a walk and three strikeouts Friday, is 1 for 21 versus Buchholz.