The Boston Red Sox were nearly unbeatable when Clay Buchholz took the mound last season.
They would like to see more of him one year later.
The Red Sox are 5-0 in Buchholz’s interleague starts, and he’ll make his season debut in Saturday night’s middle game of this home series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Boston (2-2) went 14-2 when Buchholz pitched in 2013, as the right-hander was 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA. He missed more than three months with neck and shoulder ailments.
Buchholz has been on the disabled list each of the last four years – first for a strained hamstring, then a lower back fracture, a gastrointestinal illness and last season due to a neck strain.
The Red Sox are eager to see what he can do in a full campaign, although they are not sure why he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
"It’s probably a combination of nutrition and a consistent routine," manager John Farrell told the Red Sox’s official website. "That’s not to say that he’s lacked in those ways, but how can we improve the nutrition to the point of giving him the fuel to continue to remain durable?"
Farrell also said in spring training that one key for Buchholz is to be more productive on off days.
"I think that’s the number one thing staying healthy is putting in all the work that you can to make sure that you’re out there helping the team," Buchholz said.
Buchholz is 4-0 with a 3.26 ERA in five career interleague starts, and Boston also won his Game 4 outing in St. Louis in last year’s World Series. He has never faced Milwaukee (2-2), and has only faced three of its hitters.
One of them, Lyle Overbay, is 7 for 28 against Buchholz. Overbay came up big Friday with a tiebreaking two-run double in the ninth inning off Edward Mujica, part of a four-run frame as the Brewers spoiled the Red Sox’s home opener with a 6-2 victory.
”They came out swinging against Mujica,” Farrell said. ”Knowing he’s been in the National League Central, they’re familiar with him. At the same time, Edward’s had a lot of success against that lineup. He mislocated a couple of balls, and he paid for it.”
It was a joyous and festive atmosphere inside baseball’s oldest park before the contest as Boston received its 2013 World Series rings. The score was tied from the bottom of the third inning until the ninth, when Milwaukee batted around after totaling four runs in its first 34 innings at the plate.
Ryan Braun, booed in his first road game since his 65-game suspension last season, went 0 for 5 and has a single in 16 at-bats. He served as the designated hitter due to a thumb injury, but manager Ron Roenicke is hoping he can return to the outfield Saturday to allow Jonathan Lucroy to DH.
Braun wasn’t worried about what’s sure to be the first of many nasty reactions on the road.
”I certainly wasn’t anticipating a reception like I got in Milwaukee,” Braun said. ”I’ve had plenty of experience dealing with it and I think regardless of how challenging anything is, the more you deal with it, the easier it becomes to deal with.”
Brewers starters have a 1.69 ERA thus far, and now Wily Peralta is set to make his season debut in his first outing against the Red Sox.
The right-hander went 11-15 with a 4.37 ERA in 2013, going 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA in four interleague outings. He comically stumbled and fell headfirst as he ran to the third-base line in Friday’s pregame introductions.