BOSTON -- The numbers, at first glance, are impressive: a 2.70 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning.
But right-hander Junichi Tazawa has been struggling of late, a run that continued in what was technically a scoreless inning of relief against the White Sox on Friday night when he allowed an Alejandro Da Aza triple to plate his only inherited runner.
Tazawa has allowed three of his nine inherited runners to score this month. In his last seven games dating back to Aug. 13, he has a 4.50 ERA and .320 opponents' batting average to go with two blown saves in six innings.
"Throwing-wise I feel very good," Tazawa said Friday night. "It was [six] days since I last pitched. There was a little bit of nervousness going into that inning, but I feel pretty good.
"I understand that there have been some ups and downs. I'm trying my best to limit that up and down, but it hasn't been reflected in the results yet."
Red Sox manager John Farrell pegged a lack of consistent action from Tazawa's splitter as a reason for the recent trouble, but he noted the power and aggressiveness has been there.
"At times, I think he's throwing through his split and not allowing that bottoming-out action to take place," Farrell said.
Ever confident, though, Farrell is sticking by Tazawa, in part because he doesn't have much in the way of other options late in the game.
"It's been inconsistent results, but he's still part of our late-inning mix," Farrell said. "That's who we have down there right now. He's still going to get the ball, and he's going to get the ball in some high-leverage situations."
Majority of callups to come after PawSox's playoff run
BOSTON -- The Red Sox will be in a bit of a tricky situation when rosters expand from 25 players to 40 on Sunday, but it is by no means a bad one.
With a division-clinching win Friday night, Triple-A Pawtucket is headed to the playoffs, meaning the organization will have to manage the delicate balance between the Major League team's needs and giving the members of the PawSox the opportunity to play for the Governor's Cup.
"Given the stage of a number of guys that are there, particularly the younger guys on their way up, I think those settings are invaluable -- even if it's guys that have made their debut already," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To feel a sense of urgency is always a good thing when it comes to either making a pitch or a play in some key spots."
That said, Farrell expects the team to call up "probably three or four" players Sunday to immediately supplement the 25-man roster, specifically a pitcher, a catcher and an infielder.
"The names attached to those positions are coming shortly," Farrell said.
Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who has hit .283 in 19 big league games this year, is a prime candidate, as is recently acquired utility infielder John McDonald. The Sox could also opt to bring up infielder Brock Holt or reinstate third baseman Brandon Snyder from the disabled list.
In the outfield, Quintin Berry, whom the Royals traded to the Sox this week and stole a perfect 21 bases in 21 tries for Detroit last season, could be promoted to serve as a pinch-runner.
Pawtucket also has a stable of right-handed relievers who have seen time in the Majors this season, of whom the Sox will likely select one to come to Boston on Sunday. That group includes Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Jose De La Torre and Brayan Villarreal.
The Red Sox will likely wait until Pawtucket's season ends to promote younger players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Webster.
"The remainder of who we decided -- or are in the process of deciding -- will come probably at the end of Pawtucket's playoff run," Farrell said.
Buchholz's dugout visit catches Farrell by surprise
BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz surprised Red Sox manager John Farrell on Friday night, but not with the way he pitched for Pawtucket.
The rehabbing right-hander -- who tossed 3 1/3 innings while giving up one run on seven hits and no walks -- hustled to Fenway Park and was in the Red Sox dugout by the seventh inning, fewer than two hours after he left the McCoy Stadium mound.
The quick commute, which is about a 50-minute drive, wasn't exactly a part of the plan.
"I happened to ask a question to David Ross, and I look up and he's sitting next to him," Farrell said. "It's like, 'What the heck are you doing here?'
"It shows outwardly that not only does he feel good about himself -- not just because of the game he pitched but to get back here in uniform and be back in our environment. Obviously, he wants to get back on the mound, he's eager to. It's been that way for a long time."
So how did Buchholz do it?
"That's a good question," Farrell said with a slight laugh. "I sure don't know."
As for Buchholz's actual performance, his second game action since June 8, Farrell echoed the pitcher's sentiment from Friday. Buchholz got better as the game went on, according to Farrell, with his velocity picking up and his secondary stuff looking more and more crisp with each passing inning.
"I think more than anything he's starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Farrell said.
Buchholz will make another start Wednesday for the PawSox, who will be in one of four cities as they open up the first round of their playoffs on the road. Farrell said Buchholz will throw around 70 pitches or four-to-five innings.
• Daniel Bard, who made two ugly appearances for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox this week, joined the Short-Season Class A Lowell Spinners and tossed one scoreless frame for them Saturday night.
The inning included 31 pitches -- just nine strikes -- while Bard fanned two, walked the bases loaded and threw a wild pitch. He handed out four free passes, but a caught stealing allowed him to escape unscathed.
"He's willing to do it and wanting to do it," Farrell said before Saturday's game against the White Sox. "And we don't want to take that motivation away from him."
• Right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, the first Red Sox prospect to garner the honor since Jon Lester (2005). Ranaudo had a 2.95 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 19 games for Double-A Portland before being promoted to Pawtucket in early August.
• Will Middlebrooks stole a base Friday night -- his first of the year -- but don't expect that to become a regular occurrence.
"We're not looking to just run into an out," Farrell said. "When a combination might swing in our favor, that's when we'll look to be a little bit more aggressive with him or guys with similar running speed."
• Saturday marked the first time Xander Bogaerts started at shortstop at Fenway.
Tim Healey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.