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Prim Siripipat recaps Wednesday night's action from around the league, including the Angels' big loss on the mound, and a participant taking the ALS ice bucket challenge during the Nationals vs. Diamondbacks game.
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ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes talks about how former Red Sox players have been performing on other MLB teams since the trade deadline.

Buchholz done in by Halos' five-run fifth

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
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BOSTON -- Given how well Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz had pitched the game's first four innings Wednesday night, the wall he hit in the fifth seemed nearly inexplicable.

Holding a 3-1 lead entering the inning, Buchholz's outing quickly unraveled as he faced all nine Los Angeles Angels hitters and surrendered five runs in his team's eventual 8-3 loss.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY SportsClay Buchholz was the victim of the Angels' five-run fifth inning Wednesday, falling to 5-8 with a 5.94 ERA.
Buchholz lasted six innings on the night, giving up six earned runs on seven hits and collected his third straight loss. The loss was Boston's fourth straight.

"It wasn't that I didn't have a feel for any pitch, it was just that the big pitches I needed to make I didn't make them," Buchholz said. "I left some balls over the plate they were able to hit."

Given early run support as the Red Sox scored in each of the first three innings, Buchholz seemed strong from the start, striking out the first two hitters he faced to start his night and allowing only three hits in his first four frames. Although he allowed a run in the fourth, it seemed Buchholz would once again find himself on his way to a quality start, potentially his third straight.

Then, things abruptly came crashing down. The bottom third of Los Angeles' lineup went single, walk, single to load the bases with no outs to start the fifth before Buchholz walked Kole Calhoun to force in their second run of the game. Still clinging to the lead, Buchholz was able to get Mike Trout to fly to right for what should have been a harmless first out. However, a miscommunication occurred between Dustin Pedroia at second and Daniel Nava, resulting in the ball dropping right in front of Nava. He was able to still get a force out at second, but the Angels had managed to tie the game.

"I felt good," Buchholz said. "They loaded the bases with nobody out with Trout up. I got him to mishit one, and it didn't go our way and snowballed from there."

Albert Pujols followed Trout with an RBI single and Josh Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly to score Trout on a close play at the plate as Mookie Betts' throw from center came up just short of nailing the speedy Trout at home. Then, Howie Kendrick hit a single to score Pujols before Buchholz was able to mercifully get the final out of the inning.

"Through the first four, I thought he was sharp," manager John Farrell said. "He had good, late action to his stuff. In the fifth, when he got ahead of a couple of hitters, he didn't have the same finishing pitch that he had shown in the previous four."

Catcher David Ross, activated from the disabled list prior to the game, also noticed a difference from Buchholz in the inning.

"Out of the stretch he got a little rushed and couldn't find the strike zone, and then they got some hits," Ross said. "Usually, his bread and butter, that breaking ball he can get over anytime, he wasn't able to do that. Just a little inconsistent. Sometimes we get that. I think he wanted to get out of it so bad and just started rushing a little bit.

"Other than that inning, I thought he threw the ball real well," Ross added.

To make the inning seem even more like an anomaly, Buchholz returned for the sixth and set the Angels down 1-2-3, striking out two.

"Each inning is going to present a different situation in which to work through," Farrell said. "I think that you always look for ways to improve to maintain the consistency throughout."

Consistency has eluded Buchholz this season. Every time he seems to finally have figured things out on the mound, he takes a step backward. However, Buchholz said he considers Wednesday's performance to be another learning experience in a season in which everything appears to have gone against him.

"The difference between everything that's been going on this year and last year is a lot of balls that are finding holes -- home runs, doubles. They were hit at someone last year, and I got a lot of double plays that way," Buchholz said. "Sometimes, that's the way it goes. You don't want it to be a full season, but it's the way it is sometimes."

Rapid Reaction: Angels 8, Red Sox 3

August, 20, 2014
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BOSTON -- Despite a 4-for-4 night by David Ortiz that included his 30th home run, the Boston Red Sox lost their fourth in a row Wednesday night. But that was a trifle compared to the loss endured by the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park.

The Angels lost their best pitcher, right-hander Garrett Richards, who was carted away on a stretcher in the second inning with what the club called a patella injury in his left knee. The club offered no further details pending a more complete examination.

The Angels, who had taken sole possession of first place in the American League West for the first time since May 15, 2011, beat the Red Sox 8-3 on Wednesday night to open a 1½-game lead over the Oakland Athletics. They will go for a series sweep Thursday night behind 11-game winner Matt Shoemaker; the Sox will counter with Rubby De La Rosa.

Richards, who was 13-4 with a 2.53 ERA entering the game, was injured while sprinting to first base to cover the bag on an attempted double play. Brock Holt had hit a ground ball that first baseman Albert Pujols ranged to his right to field, then threw to shortstop Erick Aybar. Richards headed to first to take the return throw but fell to the ground, clutching his left knee.

Angels rally: The Sox had scored single runs in the first and second innings off Richards and took a 3-1 lead into the fifth, as David Ortiz led off the third with his 30th home run off the season, hitting Cory Rasmus' first pitch of the inning off the back wall of the visitors' bullpen. Rasmus had entered the game with two outs in the second inning in place of Richards.

But the Angels rallied in the fifth inning against Clay Buchholz for five runs on four singles, two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a sacrifice fly.

Buchholz meter: Buchholz was charged with six earned runs in six innings, in which he allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out five. His ERA is 5.94, highest among all pitchers who qualify for the ERA title. Edwin Jackson of the Cubs, who began the night with a 5.74 ERA, is second.

Papi power: Ortiz led off the third inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park with a first-pitch home run, marking the eighth time in his career that he has hit 30 or more home runs in a season.

All eight of Ortiz's 30-homer seasons have come in a Red Sox uniform, tying him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for most all-time by a Boston player.

Ortiz hit exactly 30 home runs in 137 games last season. At his current pace, he would finish with 39 home runs, the most he has hit in a season since he hit a club-record 54 home runs in 2006.

The home run was the 461st of his career. His next home run will tie him with Jose Canseco for 34th place on the all-time list.

Ortiz had gone through a stretch of 13 games with just one home run, but now has hit four in his last five games, including two against the Houston Astros on Saturday night. He also homered Tuesday night against the Angels.

Ortiz is batting .444 (16 for 36) in his last nine games. Alex Hassan pinch-hit for him in the ninth.

RISP more like RIP: The Sox were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They are 2-for-32 in the first three games of this series against the Angels.

Roster updates: First baseman Mike Napoli sat out Wednesday's game with back spasms. Catcher David Ross singled in a run in his first game off the DL (plantar fasciitis). Catcher Daniel Butler was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Ross. Pitcher Steven Wright was optioned to Pawtucket. Hassan was recalled from Pawtucket. Allen Craig played five innings in right field and had a two-run single in the second game of his rehab assignment in Pawtucket.

Ortiz joins 30-homer club for 8th time

August, 20, 2014
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BOSTON -- David Ortiz led off the third inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park with a first-pitch home run, his 30th of the season, the eighth time in his career that he has hit 30 or more home runs in a season.

All eight of Ortiz's 30-homer seasons have come in a Red Sox uniform, tying him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for most all-time by a Boston player.

Ortiz hit exactly 30 home runs in 137 games last season. At his current pace, he would finish with 39 home runs, the most he has hit in a season since he hit a club-record 54 home runs in 2006.

"He wants to be the guy at the plate in a big situation, and I think everybody wants the same thing. That's vintage David," Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said. 

Ortiz hit a fastball from Angels reliever Cory Rasmus off the back wall of the visitors' bullpen 401 feet away to lead off the third. Rasmus had entered the game with two outs in the second inning in place of Angels starter Garrett Richards, who was taken off the field on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee.

The home run was the 461st of Ortiz's career. His next home run will tie him with Jose Canseco for 34th place on the all-time list.

Ortiz becomes the 13th player in major league history 38 years old or older to hit 30 or more home runs in a season. The last was Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who was 38 when he hit 39 home runs for Oakland in 2006.


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Lester, Gomes challenge Cherington, ex-Sox

August, 20, 2014
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Former Red Sox and current Oakland A's teammates Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday.



Gomes and Lester also called out former Red Sox teammates John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew and Andrew Miller, as well as the man who traded them all away, Boston general manager Ben Cherington, to take part in the challenge.

Garrett Richards injury 'significant'

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
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BOSTON -- Angels pitcher Garrett Richards is scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles on Thursday to be examined by team doctors for what manager Mike Scioscia called a "significant injury" to his left patellar tendon.

Richards sustained the injury Wednesday night against the Red Sox while covering first base in the second inning. First baseman Albert Pujols had fielded a ground ball by Brock Holt and thrown to second for a force play with Boston runners on first and second. Richards never made it to the bag, as he fell to the ground, clutching his left knee in pain.

"Obviously he's very distraught," Scioscia said after the Angels' 8-3 win. "He knows that it's not good, and we'll get some direction from our medical staff."

Scioscia refused to speculate on whether Richards is lost for the rest of the season, but teammate Jered Weaver said a tearful Richards, before he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, was told in the trainers room that he might require surgery. A torn patellar tendon almost always requires surgery and involves a recovery of at least three to six months.

"When I saw him go down," said Angels designated hitter Mike Trout, who has roomed with Richards since they were together in Double-A, "I got sick to my stomach."

When Angels shortstop Erick Aybar


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Professional appraiser Leila Dunbar breaks down why she valued a collection of early Boston baseball memorabilia at $1 million.
BOSTON -- Curt Schilling's appearance Wednesday on the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund telethon, in which he disclosed he had squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth, led to Red Sox manager John Farrell addressing the use of smokeless tobacco in baseball during his media session Wednesday afternoon.

Schilling, who said his cancer is in remission, said he would "go to his grave" believing that his decades-long use of smokeless tobacco led to his condition. Dana-Farber medical oncologist Dr. Robert Haddad, who joined Schilling during his appearance on the "Dennis and Callahan Show," said there is no debate over the risk of cancer that smokeless tobacco poses.

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"One of the well-described and defined risks for oral cancer is smokeless tobacco, which is what we're talking about here," Haddad said. "It is not a question mark. This has been shown repeatedly, and the National Cancer Institute clearly makes the case that any form of tobacco is harmful and should not be used."

Interestingly, NFL quarterback Jim Kelly, who was diagnosed last year with squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth, said he neither smoked nor chewed tobacco. Kelly attributed his onset of cancer to the "luck of the draw ... bad luck. I don't know what you want to call it."

But Schilling's disclosure, as well as the recent death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn at age 54 due to salivary gland cancer, which he also attributed to his use of smokeless tobacco, has cast a spotlight on its widespread use in the game.

"I don't want to call it a tradition, because it's not," Farrell said Wednesday afternoon. "But it's a norm in baseball culture."

A number of Red Sox players are regular users, and former manager Terry Francona had a well-publicized struggle to break the habit, which included making a wager with CEO Larry Lucchino, a cancer survivor. Francona lost the bet, and continues to chew.

Farrell noted how the use of smokeless tobacco is not prohibited on the big league level, protected by the players' collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball.

"MLB has taken steps to dissuade players from using it through educational programs that are administered to every team," Farrell said. "It's even got to the point [in the minor leagues] now where players can be fined if smokeless tobacco is in view of the general public. There have been some of those warnings and penalties levied on some of our players.

[+] EnlargeTerry Francona
David Banks/Getty ImagesEx-Red Sox and current Indians manager Terry Francona has struggled to stop using chewing tobacco.
"I think we all recognize that it's addictive and causes cancer. That's proven. [But] at this time, it's upon the player to make the conscious decision for himself to use it or not. All we can do is continue educate guys what the ramifications are. ... On the heels of the unfortunate passing of Tony Gwynn and what Curt is going through, you would think this would be a current beacon for guys to take note that there's a price to be paid, if you're one of the unfortunate ones stricken by cancer."

There have been numerous efforts to curtail the use of smokeless tobacco among big league players. Former player Joe Garagiola, who went on to a celebrated career as a big league broadcaster, used to tour spring training camps annually to share his message of the dangers of smokeless tobacco. Garagiola, who used to chew tobacco but quit when his daughter asked him if he was going to die from cancer, was frequently accompanied on his visits by former Tigers outfielder Bill Tuttle, whose face had been ravaged by cancer.

One of the players who took Garagiola's message to heart, at least temporarily, was Schilling, when he was with the Phillies in 1998.

"Schilling was in a line to get checked," Garagiola told the Boston Globe in a 2004 interview. "I could see that he was getting very edgy because he was thinking about the exam. I practically held him by the hand making sure he wouldn't leave. We were talking umpires and Yogi [Berra] stories, anything I could to keep him there.

"He comes out and he's as white as a sheet. He said the second they looked in his mouth the dentist said, 'If you were my son, I'd have this biopsied yesterday.'"

The results showed that Schilling had a lesion on his lower lip, a sign of abnormal cell changes and a precursor to oral cancer. He had the lesion removed, and spoke of the experience at a news conference in Clearwater, Florida. "Basically in no uncertain terms they told me that if I were to continue I would have cancer," Schilling said. "They were 100 percent sure of it. You wonder how the tobacco companies -- the people that do this -- can go to sleep at night. It's a drug, there's no doubt about it. It's addictive."

Schilling, who used moist snuff, which comes cured, finely ground, and sometimes flavored, quit for a year and a half. But despite repeated attempts, he never quit entirely.

Hassan called up, Ross activated

August, 20, 2014
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BOSTON -- With an extra pitcher on their roster, Will Middlebrooks nursing a strained hamstring and Mike Napoli showing up to Fenway on Wednesday suffering back spasms, the the Red Sox have been forced to make some roster moves prior to their game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

First baseman/outfielder Alex Hassan was called up to serve as bench depth while pitcher Steven Wright was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. In addition, the Red Sox have activated catcher David Ross off the 15-day disabled list and optioned Dan Butler to Pawtucket.

For Middlebrooks, his injury occurred in Tuesday night’s game on an infield single in the fourth inning. One batter after the hit, Middlebrooks was lifted for a pinch-runner and initially diagnosed with right hamstring tightness. He was treated by trainers Tuesday night, and Red Sox manager John Farrell felt it best to leave him out of Wednesday’s lineup.

“He strained it,” Farrell said. “We don't feel like this is a long-term thing. We’d be putting him in jeopardy if we were to start him tonight.”

Brock Holt will shift over to third base in Middlebrooks’ place. Kelly Johnson will start at first for Napoli and is batting sixth.

As for Ross, Wednesday’s return will come without a preceding rehab stint, as the catcher has been putting in early work at Fenway all week in preparation for his activation. Ross will immediately be getting back in the swing of things, catching Clay Buchholz and batting ninth for Boston.

“We had mapped out all along as David was going through his rehab and getting back to us that he’d get right back in the mix when he was activated,” Farrell said. “The number of games to be played per week will be dependent upon how he comes out of tonight. Likely he’ll get Saturday as well just to see how the foot responds. He’s gone through all the necessary steps to get back in the game tonight.”

In his time with Boston, Butler went hitless in 11 at-bats spread across his three starts behind the plate. Meanwhile, Wright was seemingly the victim of needed depth on the bench as the knuckleballer impressed after surrendering only one run in four innings of relief against the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Hassan, returning to Boston for his second stint with the club this year, went 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in the two games he started last time up. Since being sent back to Pawtucket on June 8, Hassan has hit .327 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs.

Making a Gold Glove case for Bradley

August, 20, 2014
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Bradley JrJim Rogash/Getty ImagesA penchant for making Web Gem-worthy plays like this one might help give Jackie Bradley Jr. a shot at a Gold Glove.
Jackie Bradley Jr.'s demotion has one consequence pertinent come awards time in late October/early November.

It makes the vote for the American League’s Gold Glove center fielder that much more interesting.

Bradley probably won’t get a chance to wow any of the voters (major league managers and coaches) for a few weeks, but even if he doesn’t play another game this season, he can make a pretty good case for the award.

Bradley currently ranks second among American League center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), the two primary advanced defensive metrics. He ranks first by way of an overall defensive rating combining those two, per Fangraphs.com, and second in a metric that combines those with other defensive ratings, produced by the Society for American Baseball Research.

He also ranks third via one stat that uses the eye test. Baseball Info Solutions, a company that provides data to major league teams and media, charts “Good Fielding Plays” -- essentially plays that could earn a Web Gem on Baseball Tonight (great catches) as well as some things that might go unnoticed (holding a runner to one base on a base hit).

Bradley faces two different types of competition for the Gold Glove award -- those statistically deserving and those with stellar defensive reputations.

Bradley's overall defensive value is pretty substantial. He ranks fifth among all AL players in the defensive component of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), with his defensive value pegged at 2.1 Wins better than the theoretical player who would be replacing him. That's what kept him in the lineup and kept him in the lineup despite a total Wins Above Replacement figure of 1.5 (more than four wins below what the Red Sox got from Jacoby Ellsbury last season).

In the former category, Bradley’s toughest opposition may come from Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Dyson leads AL center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved despite playing more than 300 innings fewer than Bradley.

One reason he doesn’t play all the time is because the Royals actually have another center fielder who is statistically worthy, Lorenzo Cain, who ranks tied for third in Defensive Runs Saved, just behind Bradley. He too has played more than 300 innings fewer than Bradley.

Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin is tied with Cain and could also make a good case. His will likely be hindered by his penchant for mistake. Baseball Info Solutions credits Martin with 30 Defensive Misplays & Errors, 11 more than any other center fielder in the AL. Bradley’s case is hurt slightly by his ranking second in that stat with 19.

Reputation-wise, there are three notable players in Bradley’s way -- Ellsbury, who won the award in 2011, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, who has three Gold Gloves, including two straight in center field, and Mike Trout, who has never won one, but who has a history of making the amazing play.

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Bradley’s best argument against that trio is that he rates far better statistically than each of them. In fact (and this may open up a subject better discussed at another time), Ellsbury, Trout and Jones all have negative defensive ratings (meaning a Runs Saved total below zero) this season.

That Bradley is a rookie shouldn’t be a hindrance. Ten rookies have won the award previously, most recently Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado last season.

Bradley should also be helped by the exposure and publicity he gets from playing in a big market.

Regardless of whether Bradley wins the award, and regardless of whether he hits at a higher success rate this season once he's promoted again in September, he’s definitely made a mark and proven he belongs high in the conversation with those mentioned above.

As the pursuit of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo reaches its final days, several clubs told ESPN.com on Wednesday that they believe the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have emerged as the likely finalists in a rapidly escalating bidding war.

Castillo is expected to choose a team within the next week, according to multiple sources. And clubs involved in the bidding believe he'll ultimately sign a five-year contract in the range of $50 million to $60 million. That would rank as the second-largest deal ever signed by an amateur player from Cuba or any other country, behind only Jose Abreu's six-year, $68 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Castillo, 27, has attracted the interest of a number of teams since his defection from Cuba last December. He established residency in Haiti this spring, and held a public workout in Florida last month that was attended by 28 of the 30 major league clubs.


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Top stats to know: Angels at Red Sox

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
12:52
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Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesGarrett Richards goes for his 14th win tonight. He had 11 in his first three years combined in the majors.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Boston Red Sox play the third game of their four-game series tonight on "Wednesday Night Baseball" (7 ET on ESPN2/WatchESPN). The Angels have won the first two games of the series.

Soaring Angels
After play on June 5, the Angels were tied for second place in the AL West with the Seattle Mariners, 5½ games behind the Oakland Athletics. Since June 6, Los Angeles has gone a major league-best 43-22 and sit atop the division, a half-game ahead of the A’s.

A big reason for the turnaround has been their bullpen.

Another key for the Angels has been the performance with runners in scoring position. Through June 5, LA hit .245 with RISP. Since then, they are hitting .288, second-best in the majors.

Pitching Matchup
Garrett Richards, who’s turning in a career year this season, will take the mound for the Angels tonight. In three August starts, Richards is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA

One reason he’s having a career year has been the effective use of his slider. Richards is tied for the AL lead this season with 85 strikeouts in at-bats to end in his slider. Look for that success to continue tonight as Boston is hitting a major league-low .179 in at-bats ending in a slider from a righty.

Clay Buchholz will start for Boston tonight. He has a 5.79 ERA this season, more than three times higher than the 1.74 ERA he posted in 16 starts last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no pitcher in major league history has had his ERA triple from one season to the next while throwing at least 100 innings in each of those seasons.

Buchholz is throwing his cutter much more frequently this season, and it’s getting shelled.

He’s allowed two home runs this season with that pitch, after allowing just three in the previous five seasons combined. Perhaps the velocity loss has something to do with it.

Miscellaneous
• Mike Trout is hitting .378 with five home runs and 14 RBI in his career against the Red Sox. That’s his second-highest batting average against an opponent in his career (minimum 50 plate appearances).

• Josh Hamilton is 2-for-22 (both hits are doubles) in his career against Buchholz. His .091 batting average is his second worst among the 28 pitchers he’s faced at least 20 times.

• David Ortiz is hitting .455 with three homers and eight RBIs in the past six contests.

His 402 home runs as a Red Sox are 50 shy of tying Carl Yastrzemski for second on Boston’s all-time list (Ted Williams holds the franchise record with 521).

Can Buchholz salvage his season?

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
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Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.79 ERA) gets the start Wednesday against Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angels. The last time the two pitchers met was the 19-inning Boston Red Sox loss on Aug. 9, when Buchholz allowed three runs while striking out eight in eight innings.

He'll try to help the Red Sox end their current struggles and cool off the Angels (74-50), who have won two straight and six of seven following Tuesday's 4-3 victory.

But Buchholz has been struggling all year and is on his way to posting one of the worst seasons by a starting pitcher in Red Sox history.

The pitcher has a 5.79 ERA, more than three times higher than his 1.74 ERA in 16 starts in 2013. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no pitcher in major league history has had his ERA triple from one season to the next while throwing at least 100 innings in each of those seasons.

The difference in Buchholz's numbers between this season and last season are stark. A lack of luck on balls in play could have something to do with it.

Buchholz is throwing his cutter much more frequently this season, and it's getting shelled. He's allowed two home runs this season with that pitch after allowing just three in the previous five seasons combined. Perhaps the velocity loss has something to do with it.

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