Red Sox-Royals Preview

Their three-game losing streak behind them, the Boston Red Sox

look to win their first series this season. Right-hander Clay

Buchholz would like nothing more than to help them do that.

Boston tries to win two of three from the host Kansas City

Royals on Sunday when Buchholz makes his season debut.

With manager Terry Francona using a different lineup for the

first time this season, Boston matched a season high with 12 hits

and had a season-best five home runs in Saturday’s 8-3 win. It was

the Red Sox’ first win since a 9-7 season-opening victory over the

Yankees.

Making his first start this season Saturday, Jeremy Hermida had

his first home run with his new team in the fifth inning and Red

Sox captain Jason Varitek hit the next pitch out of the park.

Varitek added a solo shot in the ninth for his 10th career

multihomer game.

“It’s nice to contribute, absolutely,” he said.

Varitek, though, will likely be on the bench Sunday with Victor

Martinez expected to catch Buchholz’s season debut.

Buchholz takes the ball nine days after his final spring

training outing, but he has no problem with waiting for his first

start. He didn’t get called up from Triple-A Pawtucket last season

until mid-July.

“They told me with a week to go in spring training, what I was

doing and I didn’t care about the wait in between,” Buchholz told

the Red Sox’ official Web site. “I get a start in the five-day

rotation. I was happy that they were giving me the ball.”

Buchholz is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two career starts versus

Kansas City.

The Royals (2-3) will likely counter with veteran right-hander

Gil Meche. Placed on the disabled list earlier this month with

shoulder bursitis, Meche had an 81-pitch outing Tuesday in

Surprise, Ariz., against Royals minor leaguers.

“He’s built up over 80 (pitches), so we’ll keep him under a 100

probably,” manager Trey Hillman said Saturday.

Royals reliever Kyle Farnsworth was shut down Saturday with a

stiff right shoulder and could be placed on the disabled list

Sunday to make room for Meche.

Meche went 6-10 with a 5.09 ERA in 23 starts last season, but

back and shoulder injuries limited him to four appearances after

the All-Star break.

In his final start before last season’s midsummer classic, Meche

was tagged for eight runs and six hits over 3 2/3 innings in a 15-9

loss in Boston on July 11.

With Meche on a pitch count, the Royals’ bullpen will likely

have to improve. After Kansas City relievers went three scoreless

innings in Friday’s 4-3 series-opening win, they yielded four runs

in 2 1/3 innings Saturday after ace Zack Greinke was pulled. The

Royals’ bullpen has blown three saves and an 11.05 ERA.

First-year Royal Rick Ankiel looks to continue his hot start at

the plate after getting two hits Saturday and raising his batting

average to .400. He is 6 for 8 with two doubles, a homer and four

RBIs in the series.

With Martinez taking over his DH spot Saturday, David Ortiz will

likely return to the lineup Sunday. He is 9 for 24 with four homers

and 10 RBIs lifetime versus Meche.