DUNEDIN, Fla. — Clay Buchholz pitched two-hit ball for four scoreless innings Friday and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-1.
Buchholz allowed singles by Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in the first and struck out three. The right-hander, who was 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts last season before injuries slowed him, hasn’t allowed a run since his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 4.
“I thought he was in command for the four innings of work,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.
“He had three very good pitches working for him: his curveball, cutter and fastball. I thought he had better stuff than five days ago. You see his velocity’s starting to climb a little bit and the later action to all his secondary pitches. But more importantly, he pitched very comfortable with very good stuff.”
Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed four hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Corey Brown and Sean Coyle hit RBI doubles for the Red Sox.
RED SOX: Buchholz said most of his pitches have been effective, but he is still working to improve his change-up.
“It’s better that it’s down than up, but I haven’t quite got a feel for it and that’s a pitch that I use a lot,” Buchholz said. “I wanted to work on it a little more today but when you spike it in the dirt, it’s a pitch that’s not getting any attempted swings and you’re just putting yourself behind in the count.”
BLUE JAYS: Hutchison threw 70 pitches. He said he isn’t looking ahead when it comes to the final spot in the rotation.
RED SOX: Shane Victorino didn’t play in a scheduled minor league game Friday as a precaution after he “felt something” in his right thumb.
The veteran outfielder, who had surgery on the thumb in December to release a nerve, is expected to return Saturday against Philadelphia.
Farrell said outfielder Grady Sizemore is feeling better after he fouled a pitch off his knee Thursday and won’t miss time.
HILL MAKES DEBUT
Red Sox veteran left-hander Rich Hill made his spring debut Friday, tossing a perfect fifth inning with one strikeout.
Hill reported to camp for the first time Wednesday after his infant son, Brooks died from multiple health complications Feb. 24.
Hill said it felt good to be back on the mound but he didn’t want to overdo anything and risk injuring himself.
“As much as you want to be out there and pitch, you also have to be cautious of doing a little too much and, in my case, I’ve been known to do a little bit too much,” he said. “But it was definitely fun getting out there today, and pitching with the crowd and everything.”
Farrell said Hill surprised him.
“It’s a testament to his athleticism and his overall strength,” Farrell said. “He’s thrown two bullpens, a (batting practice) and here he is in a game.”
Hill signed a minor league contract with Boston after spending last year with Cleveland, where was 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 382/3 innings.
He was with Boston from 2010-12, posting a 1.14 ERA in 40 appearances.