Clay Buchholz tries to become the majors' first seven-game winner on Monday when the Boston Red Sox open a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.
Buchholz has been nothing short of spectacular thus far, going a perfect 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA. Opponents are hitting a mere .178 against him and he has stranded 91.4 percent of the baserunners he has allowed.
With another victory Monday, Buchholz will match the 7-0 mark by Josh Beckett through his first seven starts in 2007 for Boston.
"Confidence is at the bottom of it," said manager John Farrell. "And that gives relaxation, and that's where no matter the player or position, when they're confident and relaxed, that's typically when their best talents come out consistently and leads to the performance that we're seeing. It's not any one given pitch. It's not a foreign substance. And it's a matter of a very good pitcher taking that ability to the mound each and every time."
He was again brilliant on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, as he scattered two hits over seven scoreless innings to get the win.
However, after the game he was accused by a member of the Blue Jays' broadcast team of having an illegal substance on his forearm and applying it to the baseball.
"I put a little bit of water on my hip just to get it a little moist, because sometimes the balls they throw to you feel like cue balls off a pool table," said Buchholz, who is 3-1 lifetime versus the Twins. "You have to find a way to get grip. Definitely no foreign objects or substances on my arm."
Boston, though, is in the midst of its worst stretch of the season and this past weekend was swept in a three-game set by the Texas Rangers. David Ortiz homered in Sunday's 4-3 loss and has now hit safely in 25 straight games dating back to last year, a career high.
As good as Buchholz has been for Boston, Vance Worley has been just as bad for Minnesota, posting an 0-4 mark to go along with a 7.22 ERA. Acquired this offseason from Philadelphia for outfielder Ben Revere, Worley was hammered by Detroit in his latest loss on Tuesday to the tune of six runs in just 4 2/3 innings.
"I don't have an answer," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "We haven't had him that long. Right now, I know the reason is because he hasn't commanded the game early. He makes bad pitches that end up in the seats."
Worley, though, beat the Red Sox the only other time he faced them, limiting them to a run and five hits in seven frames.
Minnesota salvaged the finale of its three-game set with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, as Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homer, Mike Pelfrey tossed six solid innings in a 4-2 win. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer each had an RBI for the Twins, who have won just two of their last six
Pelfrey (3-3) gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven.
"(Pelfrey's) pitches were working, he was locating very well and got us through a good six innings," Gardenhire said.
Boston was 4-3 last season versus the Twins.