Red Sox-Mariners Preview
Clay Buchholz is back, and he's going back to the approach that made him a two-time All-Star.
Buchholz takes the mound for the first time in a month Wednesday night when the visiting Boston Red Sox try to salvage the finale of this three-game set with the Seattle Mariners, winners of five straight.
A hyperextended left knee landed Buchholz (2-4, 7.02 ERA) on the disabled list May 28, and he is expected to be activated after allowing three runs in 10 2-3 innings over a pair of rehabilitation starts with Triple-A Pawtucket.
"I'm 100 percent," Buchholz told MLB's official website. "Knee is a non-issue, and it's just a matter of getting back out there and getting re-acclimated with pitching at this level."
He wasn't very effective in his last four starts before going on the DL, losing his only two decisions while posting a 9.50 ERA.
Now, he's looking to take a different tactic to the mound, one that led to 23 wins over the past two years.
"The two pitches I felt comfortable throwing was fastball and cutter, and that's basically all I threw," Buchholz said of his early season struggles. "That's one of the reasons I was getting hit.
"I've always been a guy to throw curveballs or changeups first pitch, and throughout this whole season it's been fastball-cutter for me. I feel like, if I can switch it up and throw one of four or five pitches first pitch, I'll have a better chance of success, rather than just throwing one of two pitches."
Buchholz is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners - all at Safeco Field.
The Red Sox (35-43) are 3-12 on the road this month, and could use a strong performance from the right-hander since the rotation has a 6.03 ERA while the team has dropped five of the first six on this 10-game trip.
Jake Peavy was the latest to struggle, giving up seven runs in five innings of an 8-2 defeat to the Mariners (42-36) on Tuesday.
Seattle has batted .305 and scored 31 runs with eight homers during its five-game win streak. The Mariners haven't completed a series sweep of Boston since winning three straight June 25-27, 2007.
Kyle Seager is making his contribution by going 13 for 23 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in six home games. He has five hits in this series, connecting for a three-run homer to go with his RBI double Tuesday.
"It's one of those things where you get feeling good, you go through your little runs and they have been at home for me," Seager said.
The third baseman is batting .328 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs at spacious Safeco compared to a .201 average with one homer while driving in 17 runs on the road.
Hisashi Iwakuma (5-3, 3.04) is trying to bounce back from his shortest start of the season, blowing a five-run lead by allowing five runs and two homers in five-plus innings Friday. He left without a decision in a 7-5 win at Kansas City.
The right-hander had won two of his previous three starts with a 1.61 ERA.
Iwakuma has no record while allowing eight runs in 8 2-3 innings over two career starts against Boston. Much of that damage came at home July 9, giving up six runs and three homers in three innings of an 11-8 defeat.