Boston Red Sox starters Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have turned in back-to-back strong outings in spring training games Monday and Sunday.
The righthanded Buchholz recorded five innings of one-hit baseball on Monday in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., while Lester was perfect in six innings in Boston’s 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla.
The lefthanded Lester threw 79 pitches and struck out six in facing the minimum of 18 batters in the six innings. Lester has given up only two runs and six hits in 20 spring training innings. He has also struck out 16.
On Monday, Buchholz gave up a solo homer to Neil Walker in the second inning, but it was just his first run allowed this spring and his fourth straight strong outing. In 13 1/3 innings he has allowed just seven hits and a run.
The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but Gaby Sanchez cranked a two-run home run off Chris Carpenter after Carpenter had given up a leadoff walk to Josh Harrison.
Ryan Lavarnway notched a two-run single in the first for the Red Sox.
In Sunday’s game, Jonny Gomes had three hits for the Red Sox and drove in four runs.
Relievers Anthony Carter and Joel Hanrahan kept the perfect game going through the seventh and eighth innings until it ended in the ninth when Jason Bourgeois reached Marco Duarte for a one-out infield single.
On Tuesday the Red Sox will host the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park and will send new righthander Ryan Dempster to the mound against Baltimore lefty Brian Matusz.
Red Sox notebook
— Shortstop Stephen Drew is not making much progress from a concussion he suffered 10 days ago after getting hit by a pitch. Manager John Farrell said March 17 that “the window is narrowing” on Drew’s chances of being on the Opening Day roster.
— RHP John Lackey can point to a tangible improvement since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’s now able to throw his fastball inside against lefthanded hitters and away to righthanders. That may not sound like a huge deal, but for a pitcher like Lackey, it’s significant. Since he’s never going to blow anyone away, he needs to be able to keep hitters honest. A fastball that only gets halfway to the inside corner isn’t so much a fastball as a meatball, but one that gets all the way there might as well be a bowling ball. Lackey explained what things felt like before surgery. “In to lefties and away to righties was a little tougher, because that extension point is where I felt the twinge,” Lackey said. “That’s definitely nice to be able to do that without pain, to be able to get extended and get to that side of the plate. Before, my arm didn’t go all the way straight.”
–C David Ross found himself amusingly trending on Twitter for a time after former Braves teammate Chipper Jones joked on the social networking site that Ross should start a rumor that Jones is coming out of retirement to play for the Red Sox. Jones was playing off quotes from Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who said he’d love to have Jones join the Bombers, resulting in about 10,000 more followers for Jones’ Twitter account. “I asked him if he was staying in retirement, and he said, ‘I ain’t going nowhere,’” Ross said. “I came in thinking I’d help him out, but then I realized it probably wasn’t a good idea. It’s funny to Chipper, but all of a sudden if my name’s attached to it, I might have to answer to our front office.”