Much of the banter about Clay Buchholz has focused on doctored baseballs and sunscreen.
Through all of the controversy revolving around him, the Red Sox right-hander has amassed a sterling 6-0 record and 1.69 ERA through eight starts. On Friday, he'll attempt to join Rays southpaw Matt Moore as the only pitchers in baseball to sport a 7-0 record.
That seventh win has proven to be elusive for Buchholz, who hasn't factored into the decision during either of his past two outings. That includes an eight-inning effort on Saturday, when he limited the Blue Jays to two runs.
Buchholz will next face off with a Twins offense that entered Wednesday's action tied with the Tigers for the most runs in May. The usual suspects have carried Minnesota's lineup, as Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to 14 games on Wednesday and Justin Morneau pushed his to 11 before the team's off-day on Thursday.
Their production has shielded Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit. Willingham, who slugged 35 home runs a year ago, is batting just .205 during the 2013 campaign. Doumit is hitting .216.
"You build your team around the middle of your lineup, and those guys are a big part of that," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're the producers. Willingham needs to get going here, and Doumit is swinging better. These guys need to get on, and they're doing their part."
The Twins hope Willingham is turning a corner. He socked an opposite-field double off the wall on Tuesday and struck an RBI single on Wednesday.
"He's doing a lot of different work," Gardenhire said. "[Tuesday] night, he was staying on the ball and driving it other way. Normally, that gets a guy feeling better. He definitely stayed back and shot it off the right-center-field wall. They always say when you're swinging and missing a lot -- and Willy does that as a home run hitter -- to sometimes stay back and get jammed a little bit until you get into a better rhythm."
Red Sox: Bailey likely to rejoin 'pen on Monday
• Andrew Bailey is expected to be back in the bullpen for Monday's series opener against the White Sox in Chicago.
The closer threw a 15-pitch simulated game at Tropicana Field on Thursday. His final step is to be activated for a one-game Minor League stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday.
"I felt good. I threw all my pitches," Bailey said. "The next step is to pitch Saturday in Pawtucket and then be back. Everything feels good. It's a baseball thing, just getting acclimated again. Everything feels great."
On the disabled list with a strained right biceps, Bailey last appeared in a game for the Red Sox on April 28.
Twins: Worley tabbed for Friday
• Vance Worley hasn't been a model of consistency this season. The Twins hope that means he'll deliver a strong outing on Friday. In eight starts this season, Worley has allowed the following earned run totals: one, two, three (twice), four, five, six and seven.
The right-hander has surrendered 30 hits over his past three outings, a span of 15 innings. During that stretch, Worley has compiled an 8.40 ERA. He opposed Buchholz on May 6 and held Boston to three runs on nine hits in five innings. He didn't factor in the decision.
• Morneau has eight hits in 16 at-bats (.500 average) against Buchholz. Mauer has five hits in 13 at-bats (.385) against the righty.
• Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino went 3-for-3 with a solo home run against Worley on May 6.
• Buchholz has quality starts in seven of his eight outings this season. He has also tallied 60 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings and has lasted at least seven frames in all but one start.