Clay Buchholz throws five shutout innings in return


Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz made his first start since June 8 on Tuesday night versus the Rays.

And it went as well as anyone could have expected.

Featuring a steady 93 mph fastball and a very sharp changeup, Buchholz tossed five scoreless innings at Tropicana Field, yielding only three hits and one walk while striking out six Rays batters. He was lifted from the game at 74 pitches — 44 of which were strikes.

Boston’s bullpen did its part, with Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara combining to keep the shoutout alive in an eventual 2-0 victory.

Buchholz is now 10-0 with a 1.61 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 89 1/3 total innings this season.

The first-place Red Sox are leading the second-place Rays by 8 1/2 games in the American League East.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.