Buchholz's gem backed by five Boston homers

Righty blanks Jays for seven innings, moves to 6-0; Napoli swats pair

Buchholz's gem backed by five Boston homers

TORONTO -- It's hard to pitch any better than Clay Buchholz has to start the season.

Red Sox catcher David Ross said there are only a couple of pitchers he has caught that have had a comparable run of dominance to Buchholz's. One being Braves starter Kris Medlen, who threw 34 2/3 scoreless innings in one stretch last year, and the other Eric Gagne, whom Ross caught while they were teammates with the Dodgers during the closer's string of 84 consecutive saves from 2002-04.

Buchholz improved to 6-0 by throwing seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball, while Mike Napoli crushed two of the Red Sox's five homers in a lopsided 10-1 victory over the Blue Jays in front of 21,094 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday night.

"Figuring out how to use your talent is one of the toughest things in the game and how it plays and how to adjust. And he has done an amazing job with that," Ross said of Buchholz.

The 28-year-old Buchholz has not just beaten the opposition this year, he has dominated it. Buchholz, the first pitcher in baseball to six wins this season, has gone seven-plus innings in each of his six starts and has punched out at least six -- hitting double digits twice -- in five of them. He has not allowed more than two runs in any outing and struck out 47 while walking 16.

All of his outings have been quality starts, while his 44 2/3 innings are tops in baseball, and his 1.01 ERA is pacing the American League.

Dominating the Blue Jays on their home turf is nothing new for Buchholz. He improved to 7-2 lifetime with a 1.49 ERA at Rogers Centre, which is the best mark among pitchers who have thrown at least 55 innings at Toronto's park.

Buchholz said the Rogers Centre mound stays together really well and is his favorite park in which to pitch.

His full arsenal was on display against Toronto, which Ross said was fun to catch. The backstop said Buchholz can command all of his offerings to both sides of the plate and shows no fear throwing any pitch to any batter at any point in the game.

"There aren't many other guys like that in the big leagues, that's why he is doing what he is doing," Ross said. "He's that good. ... He can really pitch and I'm glad he's on my side."

Confidence and trust in his catcher, Buchholz said, is what is allowing him to thrive.

"There is going to be your starts where you go out there and don't have your best stuff and get hit around a little bit, everybody has to go through it," said Buchholz, who walked three and struck out eight. "But I'll try to ride the wave as long as it's there."

Until Melky Cabrera hit a single off Buchholz in the eighth, the only hit he had allowed was a third-inning single to Munenori Kawasaki.

After issuing a leadoff walk to slugger Jose Bautista in the fourth, Buchholz retired the next 10 batters before walking Adam Lind to start the eighth. Lind, who advanced to third on Cabrera's single, was the first Blue Jays player to get into scoring position off Buchholz.

"We couldn't get anything going on Buchholz, that's basically what happened," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He has been the hottest pitcher in the month of April, him and that Matt Moore kid in Tampa."

Boston's No. 2 starter has formed a dynamic duo with ace Jon Lester, who is 4-0 with a 3.11 ERA.

"We have two of the top two starters in the game," Ross said.

Buchholz got the majority of his help in the form of the long ball, starting with a second-inning homer by Stephen Drew, a two-run shot off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle. Drew's first homer with Boston put the club ahead, 2-0.

Then in the fourth, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava hit back-to-back shots, the fourth time the Red Sox have done so this season, to go up, 4-0.

Napoli, however, wasn't done just yet. After the Red Sox chased Buehrle from the contest, Napoli victimized another Blue Jays pitcher.

The first baseman connected on a 95-mph fastball off reliever Esmil Rogers and sent it deep into the upper deck in center field for a three-run shot, giving Boston an 8-0 lead. It was the 11th multi-homer game of Napoli's career and his sixth long ball of the season.

Manager John Farrell, who was at the helm of the Blue Jays for two years before joining Boston, said he has never seen anyone put a ball at Rogers Centre where Napoli did on his second home run.

"I haven't spent a whole lot of time here relative to others that have seen many games in here but, in the time spent, I have never seen a ball that high up in the center-field area," he said.

Napoli leads the Majors with 21 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs.

The Red Sox have slugged exceptionally well at Rogers Centre this year, hitting 16 home runs in five games compared to 14 in 16 contests at Fenway Park.

"In conditions where the roof is closed and it's warm in here, the ball definitely flies," Farrell said. "This is a good hitter's ballpark."

Buehrle, who lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowed five runs on seven hits while walking three. The lefty fell to 1-2 and saw his ERA rise to 6.43.

Mike Carp added a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth, while David Ortiz extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a leadoff double in the sixth.

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.