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The last time Clay Buchholz had pitched -- on June 8, a victory over the Angels -- I was finishing up a year of teaching in China. That was 94 days ago, but it seems like much longer than that to me. I think that's what happens when you move countries (I returned to Minnesota in July); time compresses and then speeds up. The Red Sox last employed a 10-0 starter in 1986; I hadn't yet turned two.
In 1986, Roger Clemens began 14-0, the United States bombed Libya and a ball rolled through Bill Buckner's five-hole. In 2013, Clay Buchholz began 10-0, the United States (TBD) Syria and the Red Sox (TBD) in the playoffs.
Buchholz painted a miniature but legitimate portrait over five shutout innings on Tuesday against the Rays in Tropicana Field, a stadium constructed in 1986. He showed few ill effects of his three-month layoff due to a sore pitching shoulder, allowing just three hits and striking out six. Dialing his fastball up to 93, Buchholz threw 44 strikes in 74 pitches before he was lifted. Buchholz told reporters after the game that he'll only have a pitch count one more time, on Sunday Night Baseball against the Yankees.
Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara combined to throw four shutout innings in the 2-0 victory, topping Tampa Bay ace David Price (born 127 days before 1986). The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out nine and allowed just two runs on three hits over eight innings, but that couldn't prevent him from getting pinned with his third straight loss.
In addition to Buchholz's shiny 10-0 record, he boasts a 1.61 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 87 strikeouts over 89 1/3 innings. Uehara, who collected the final four outs for the save, has retired 31 straight batters. In addition to that cumulative perfect game, he's hurled 28 1/3 consecutive shutout innings.
Boston (13-3 since Aug. 24) extended its lead over second-place Tampa Bay (4-12 since Aug. 25) to 8 1/2 games and decreased its magic number to 10.
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The Red Sox received more good news when super-agent Scott Boras announced that he expects his client, Jacoby Ellsbury, to return to the field later this month. Boras believes Ellsbury, suffering from a compression fracture in his right foot, will be completely healthy for the playoffs. The Red Sox cautiously agree with that assessment.
Boras said Ellsbury would be fine once the swelling in his foot subsides, inflammation that is currently constricting the movement of a tendon connected to his tibia. Because of this, Ellsbury's injury will require rest and not surgery.
Got all that? Dr. Boras' update sounds plausible enough, but if there is anyone that would clear his afternoon to publicly embellish the healing rate of a client, it's Boras. Ellsbury is an impending free agent whose next contract could add a few new wings onto El Palacio de Boras this winter.
Mark Your Calendars
Major League Baseball announced its 2014 schedule on Tuesday afternoon. I find the NFL schedule release date more obnoxious than that poor sledgehammer in "Wrecking Ball" found Miley Cyrus—with networks devoting hours of airtime to discussing games in which nobody can accurately predict the participants—but baseball's schedule release mostly just incites lame Twitter faux-arguments between beat writers on the coasts (Seattle, Oakland, Miami, etc.), debating who will face the more arduous travel schedule next season. Get back to work, boys.
If you missed all that excitement, don't fret. It’s far too early to begin getting excited about individual 2014 games, but the schedule release provided three news items that all baseball lunatics should be apprised of immediately:
o The Dodgers and Snakes kick off the season in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23. It will mark the first time that MLB has staged a game Down Under.
o Two undisclosed teams will square off on Sunday Night Baseball on March 31. That Monday will function as a more traditional Opening Day, with 14 games scheduled. The Yankees and Astros, who kick off April 1, are the only teams that don't play a March game.
o The amateur draft begins on Thursday, June 5, while the All-Star game at Target Field in Minneapolis takes place on Tuesday, July 15.
AL Quick Hits: Jason Giambi hopes to return to the Indians next season ... Peter Bourjos underwent successful season-ending surgery to repair his injured right wrist ... Oakland activated Josh Reddick from the disabled list; the outfielder missed exactly 15 days with a sprained right wrist ... Howie Kendrick was also activated from the D.L., but he’s not expected to draw a start on the Rogers Centre turf as the Angels hope to protect his strained left knee ... Colby Rasmus took batting practice and said his left oblique is improving ... Jered Weaver sustained right forearm tightness during Monday's start, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't expect him to miss a start ... The Rangers are leaning towards keeping Nick Tepesch on line for Tuesday's start against the Rays (Alexi Ogando is also being considered) ... Alex Rodriguez was pulled early against the Orioles due to left hamstring tightness … Mark Trumbo went 5-for-5 with a home run, 11 total bases and five runs scored against the Blue Jays … Alfonso Soriano blasted two homers in a comeback win over the Orioles … The Yankees added shortstop depth (read: Derek Jeter insurance) from the Mariners by acquiring Brendan Ryan for a player to be named later … Rick Porcello yielded only one run in a complete-game victory over the White Sox … Josh Willingham blasted two homers in a win against the A's ... Jonathan Villar hit his first career home run and also swiped two bags against the Mariners.
NL Quick Hits: Jared Cosart was shut down the remainder of the season; he finished with a 1.95 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 60 innings ... Drew Pomeranz, out since mid-July with left bicep tendinitis, isn't expected to make another start in 2013 ... Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle plans to use Gerrit Cole in the bullpen in the playoffs ... Matt Harvey is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Monday; he's hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery ... The Mets recalled Ruben Tejada; he's likely to steal Omar Quintanilla's job and should be added in NL-only leagues ... New York may need to start both, as Justin Turner left Tuesday's game against the Nationals with tightness in his right hamstring and Wilmer Flores didn't start due to his ailing ankles ... Giancarlo Stanton (foot, ankle) returned to the Marlins' starting lineup ... Sean Marshall (shoulder sprain) tossed a simulated game on Tuesday afternoon and should return to the bullpen within the next two weeks ... Starling Marte took batting practice for the first time since he suffered a contusion and sprained ligament in his hand on August 18 ... Bryce Harper is expected to return Wednesday; he's been out with hip inflammation ... Allen Craig is out of his walking boot and has been cleared to begin working out ... Suffering from the flu, Roy Halladay's next start has been pushed back to Thursday ... Matt Kemp (ankle) still can't run, but he's making strides with his swing in live batting practice sessions at the team's spring training complex; Dodgers manager Don Mattingly expects him to return later this season ... Tony Cingrani exited Tuesday's start early with back spasms, aggravating the injury he suffered through from late August to early September ... Justin Upton fouled a ball of his knee and was removed from Tuesday's game; he's day-to-day with a right knee bruise ... Jayson Werth finished 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI against the Mets … Shelby Miller hurled 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers … Welington Castillo finished 3-for-5 with two home runs versus the Reds ... Michael Cuddyer smacked two homers of his own in a win over the Giants ... Hunter Pence countered by going 4-for-5 with a double, homer and six RBI in a losing effort.