Buehrle hurt by homers, while bats can't get on track

In first season with Blue Jays, veteran left-hander yet to find groove

Buehrle hurt by homers, while bats can't get on track

TORONTO -- Mark Buehrle continues to struggle with his new team.

Despite being one of the game's most consistent pitchers for more than a decade, the 34-year-old left-hander -- like his team -- can't seem to find his groove.

Buehrle allowed five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, and was the opposite of his Boston counterpart as the Blue Jays fell, 10-1, on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

"The pitches he left up, they hit him," Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia said.

The biggest concern about Buehrle's recent outings continues to be the long ball. For the second straight start, the former White Sox and Marlins left-hander allowed three home runs, accounting for most of the damage.

A veteran of 402 starts, Buehrle gave up three homers for the 16th time in his career and only the third time since 2010.

"The home runs were the difference," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He made a couple of mistakes and they hit it out of the ballpark."

Even more concerning for the Blue Jays may be how their No. 3 pitcher has fared against the American League East in recent years. In the last four seasons, Buehrle is 2-12 with a 5.12 ERA against Toronto's division foes, including an 0-2 record and a 5.68 ERA in three starts this season.

It was also the fourth time in six starts this season that the veteran allowed five or more runs.

"[The location] has been probably inconsistent for him, but he'll get that, he always has," Gibbons said. "He'll tighten that up, but that's the way he pitches. That's key for him."

"I have to make better pitches," Buehrle said. "[I] have to keep the ball down, execute pitches and stay low in the zone."

While Buehrle had his issues, Clay Buchholz was dominant for Boston.

Continuing his early-season success, Buchholz held Toronto to only two hits and struck out eight, while walking three, and faced four batters over the minimum over seven scoreless innings. The Blue Jays got only one runner past first while he was on the mound.

"Buchholz just never gave us anything to do [anything] with," Gibbons said.

After allowing a single to Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki in the third, Buchholz retired 12 of the next 13 batters. By the time Toronto had recorded its second hit, Boston already held an 8-0 lead.

"[Buchholz was throwing] sinkers and cutters on both sides of the plate, mixing in different pitches," Arencibia said. "And then once you're on the defense, he was throwing strike one a lot today. I think that makes him a lot harder to hit."

The Red Sox right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA, with 47 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. He's allowed only five earned runs in six starts.

"I'll try to ride the wave as long as it's there," Buchholz said.

What was impressive about this outing was that it came a night after the offense carried the Blue Jays against Red Sox ace Jon Lester, with multiple home runs and lots of hard-hit balls. There wasn't much of that from the home squad on this night.

Boston, however, seemed to be able to pick up right where it left off.

The Red Sox hit five home runs, almost all of them extremely deep.

It began in the second, when Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew clubbed a 1-0 Buehrle fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run home run. However, Buehrle acknowledged he made the biggest mistake to the batter before Drew.


"The one pitch I want back is the 2-1 pitch I hit [Will] Middlebrooks on," Buehrle said. "[I] put him on and [I give up] a two-run homer that changes the game right there, when you're going up against one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. I want that pitch back. I shouldn't even have faced Drew that inning."

The most powerful blow, however, came off the bat of Mike Napoli against reliever Esmil Rogers. Napoli's second home run of the game was mashed deep to left-center field, clearing the outfield patio and into the third-deck restaurant above it. That became the finishing blow for Boston, as it gave the visitors an eight-run lead.

Napoli went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs in the 11th multi-homer game of his career.

"We want to come back here," Arencibia said. "We want to win the series. ... This one's done with, and get ready for tomorrow."

Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.