Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview


Clay Buchholz is the first Boston Red Sox pitcher in six seasons to win his first five starts.

The right-hander is the only Red Sox starter ever to win six consecutive decisions at Toronto.

Buchholz will try to extend those streaks - and become the majors' first six-game winner - on Wednesday night when the Red Sox seek to bounce back from their first defeat in six games.

After going 0-5 with a 5.62 ERA in his final eight outings of 2012, Buchholz (5-0, 1.19 ERA) is off to a brilliant start for the MLB-best Red Sox (18-8). The right-hander matched his career high for consecutive winning starts by throwing 7 2-3 innings of two-run ball in Thursday's 7-2 win over Houston.

"If he doesn't have his best stuff, he finds a way to get it done," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia told the Red Sox' official website after Buchholz struck out 10. "... That's what Clay's able to do."

The last Red Sox starter to win his first five starts was Josh Beckett, who opened 7-0 in 2007.

"Last couple of years I've been a slow starter, so it feels good to be out there and have a little bit of confidence early on, and that helps a lot,'' said Buchholz, who was 7-8 with a 5.19 ERA in April heading into 2013. "Guys are playing well behind me. Things are going right.''

Things couldn't have gone much better for Buchholz in his last seven starts in Toronto. He's 6-0 with a 1.27 ERA during that stretch after not earning a decision in his last start there, a 3-2 win on Sept. 15.

The Red Sox are hoping for another solid start from Buchholz north of the border after getting denied a team-record 19th April win on Tuesday, losing 9-7 in the series opener.

"They've got a quick-strike offense and they swung the bats very well tonight,'' said John Farrell, the Blue Jays' former manager. "They didn't miss pitches when they got them on the plate.''

Edwin Encarnacion hit a pair of homers - including the first one into the upper deck at Rogers Centre since 2011 - to help Toronto (10-17) end a season-worst four-game skid and avoid its first 18-loss April.

"Winning a game like this, that's what we need right now," he said.

Wednesday's scheduled starter Mark Buehrle (1-1, 6.35) needs a victory following a rough first month with the club. In his last outing, the veteran southpaw was tagged for a season-high three homers, including a three-run shot by Robinson Cano in a 5-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

"That's the thing about this game that sometimes makes it frustrating," said Buehrle, 28-16 with a 3.23 ERA in 65 May starts. "They get two infield hits, and I put it right where I want to and it's three runs.''

Buehrle, 6-8 with a 4.64 ERA lifetime versus Boston, better be careful where he puts the ball against David Ortiz, who is 22 for 61 (.361) with three homers and eight doubles in that matchup.

Since coming off the DL nine games ago, Ortiz has 18 hits in 36 at-bats. He hit his third homer on Tuesday and drove in a season-high four, extending his RBI streak to six.

Encarnacion is 10 for 30 with seven homers and 12 RBIs in an eight-game hitting streak, but he has one hit - a single - in 15 at-bats against Buchholz.