Clay Buchholz makes early exit from start due to stiff back

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Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal passes along word that right-hander Clay Buchholz had to be pulled prematurely from his Thursday evening start against the Rays due to back stiffness.

Buchholz surrendered just two hits and one earned run over five innings before exiting and had thrown only 81 pitches. He’s been bothered by this back ailment since the beginning of June and has also been pitching through a blister on his finger.

The Red Sox are calling his early departure “precautionary” and have not indicated that he’s going to need to miss his next start, but they’re adding rotation depth in Andrew Miller next week and could simply skip Buchholz one time through the rotation to be safe. Ian Browne of MLB.com has an indication of what that might look like.

Buchholz, 26, has registered a quality 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP through 14 starts this season.

Aaron Judge homers off of Max Scherzer, American League takes a 1-0 lead

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Despite the earlier rain, the All-Star Game got underway on time and following the usual pregame festivities Max Scherzer took the hill to face the American League.

Scherzer did great in the first inning, striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve and then, following a walk to Mike Trout and giving up a single to J.D. Matinez, retired Jose Ramirez on a weak popup. Scherzer was cooing with gas: the reigning Cy Young winner had not thrown a pitch as fast as 98 m.p.h. all season, but he threw three of those during his scoreless first.

Chris Sale‘s work in the bottom half was more about nasty stuff than mere heat. Following a leadoff single allowed to Javier Baez he got Nolan Arenado to fly out to left, struck out Paul Goldschmidt on a nasty slider and then got Freddie Freeman out via a fly to left.

Aaron Judge led off the second. The same Aaron Judge someone wrote today could be trade bait if the Yankees felt so inclined. Which, um, OK, that was dumb anyway, but it looked even dumber when Judge muscled Scherzer’s second pitch — a letter-high fastball — out to left field with many, many feet to spare for a homer.

Scherzer got the rest of the A.L. side, but the damage had been done. The American League leads 1-0 after an inning and a half.