Buchholz becoming Boston’s secret weapon





much of the northeast had its eyes peeled on the masterful debut of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez,
another young arm was busy making his presence felt on the diamond Sunday.


kept a dangerous Rays offense to one earned run over seven innings —
his fourth straight quality start. Nailing down a spot in the Red Sox rotation
hasn’t been easy ever since his no-hit effort two years ago. A rocky rookie
season damaged expectations enough that the Red Sox kept him down at Triple-A
Pawtucket for half of 2009. And even when he was finally recalled on July 17, it
was déjà vu all over again, with his ERA ballooning to 6.05 after four outings.


then, however, Buchholz has rebounded convincingly. Holding opponents to two
earned runs or fewer in six of his last eight outings has dropped his overall
ERA to 3.66. Boston’s decision to cut ties with Brad Penny last month all but
guaranteed Buchholz a rotation, and the decision is paying off.  With a 22/7 K/BB ratio over his last four
starts, the 25-year-old righty has not only rewarded Boston brass for sticking
by him through thick and thin, he also appears to be turning a corner.


surging their way onto mixed-league lineups include:


if landing a starting role at age 20 wasn’t enough, Rangers shortstop Elvis
Andrus is making a strong bid for AL Rookie of the Year consideration, thanks
to a 15-game hit streak.


torrid nine-game hit streak from Billy Butler gives owners another exciting
Royals player not named Zack Greinke or Joakim Soria. The 23-year-old first
baseman has matured into the club’s top hitter since the All-Star break and
sports a shimmering .400 average with eight extra-base hits this month.


ahead of Hanley Ramirez has given Nick Johnson plenty of pitches to hit in
Florida. In fact, the oft-injured yet talented first baseman hasn’t had this
kind of protection since his Yankees years, which ended in 2003. He’s hitting
.355 with nine doubles during September, a trend that figures to continue as
the season winds down.


surroundings also appear to be bringing out the best in Vicente Padilla, who’s
gone 3-0 with a  2.01 ERA and a 17/7 K/BB
ratio over four starts since landing in the Dodgers rotation. After blanking
the Giants over the weekend, he faces them again on Friday, Sept. 18.


former teammate, Elijah Dukes, appears going through something of a rebirth. Having
reached base safely in his last 17 games, the bulky outfielder could wrap up an
otherwise disappointing season with a bang.



–Alex Cushing,

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