Buchholz, Red Sox blank Twins
BOSTON -- Under normal circumstances, Clay Buchholz may well have come out to finish off a shutout in the ninth inning at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
BOSTON - Under normal circumstances, Clay Buchholz may well have come out to finish off a shutout in the ninth inning at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
However, having been under the weather for a few days, eight innings was just fine with the Boston Red Sox right-hander.
“If it was any other day and I felt good, I wouldn’t have let (manager John Farrell) take me out of the game, but I was gassed,” Buchholz said after his eight shutout innings allowed the struggling Red Sox to open an important seven-game homestand with a 1-0 victory over the sizzling Minnesota Twins.
Buchholz (3-6) gave way to closer Koji Uehara, whose 11th save sealed Boston’s second win in eight games. The Red Sox (23-29) started the day in last place in the American League East, and with team owner John Henry pledging his support for manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington.
Another tough loss would have been tough to take, but Buchholz, who lost a 2-1 duel with Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey last week in Minnesota, came through with a strong start and Rusney Castillo delivered the game’s only run with a two-out single in the seventh.
“Every game’s big from here on out,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, we haven’t played up to the caliber of players we have on this team. The bar’s set pretty high for this club, so there’s nobody in this clubhouse that doesn’t expect that. I don’t think we’d want it any other way.
“Hopefully, we can get on track.”
Buchholz gave up three hits and two walks. He struck out eight in his fifth consecutive solid start following a slump. Only one runner got as far as second base. He is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA over his past four starts.
Uehara, who blew the save and took the loss in Texas on Sunday, yielded a two-out walk in the ninth but finished off the win.
Pelfrey (4-2) gave up one run on six hits in seven innings for the Twins, who just came out of a 20-7 May that vaulted them into first place in the AL Central.
Minnesota (30-20) won all three meetings with the Red Sox last week.
“It was well-pitched obviously on both sides,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Buchholz was good. We didn’t have many opportunities to get a hit with runners in scoring position, and Mike was solid throughout.”
Said Pelfrey: “He was just better tonight. When he’s on, it’s tough. You tip your cap to him.”
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts doubled with two outs in the seventh, his second hit of the night (to go with a stolen base). Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks gave up on the ball, which wound up hitting near the bottom of the wall in left-center. Catcher Sandy Leon then walked, and Castillo, just 4-for-22 against right-handers, singled to center in a tough at-bat.
“Castillo did nice job with two strikes, hitting the ball up the middle,” Molitor said.
Castillo then reached above the line of the fence to grab Hicks’ fly ball that started the eighth. After the game, he said he didn’t think the ball was going to go out. As far as his winning hit, he said through an interpreter he was “mostly happy because it gave us a win.”
Castillo’s hit came after the offensively challenged Red Sox were 0-for-6 in the game with runners in scoring position.
Farrell, asked after the game about the show of support from Henry, said, “We all share in where we are today. You appreciate those comments certainly, but the thing I care most about are the guys in that clubhouse and how we get on a little bit of a run here, a little bit of a streak.”
-- The MRI exam of Minnesota RHP Ricky Nolasco’s right ankle turned up no new damage, and the hope is Nolasco can avoid a disabled-list stint. He won’t make his regular start Friday night. LHP Tommy Milone, currently in the minors, will start for the Twins on Thursday.