BALTIMORE -- Clay Buchholz made his final start of the 2013 season Friday night and readily admitted that he didn't have his best stuff.
There was, however, a silver lining.
Buchholz pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits in the Red Sox' 12-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. His velocity was down some, and he wasn't as energized as he otherwise might be, having made two long flights to and from Denver this week.
But Buchholz made the most of what he had, and still won.
"It was a good stepping stone,'' said Buchholz, who finished the season 12-1. "I'm ready to go physically. It was a little bit of a grind today. I didn't have my best stuff out there. That's the way it goes sometimes. With the travel the last couple of days and sleeping all day yesterday, my body felt a little lethargic tonight.
"I felt it when I woke up this morning, (sensing) it night be a grinding outing for me -- which I think I needed. Anybody can go out and pitch when you have your best stuff. It's [nice] when you go out there and keep your team in the game, it's definitely a good thing.''
''I think Clay went out and pitched with a comfortable effort level,'' said John Farrell. "It wasn't his most overpowering, but he had to pitch. He had to make some pitches and he got over 110 pitches. It was more of a progression for him.''
Buchholz's fastball sat between 88-91 mph, a dip from usual. But he made do with what he had.
"It's all about command, control and location of each pitch,'' said Buchholz, who didn't issue a single walk. "It was going really good before I got hurt. I've said all along, I'm not really asking to get back to that point, but somewhere close. I think the last four times out, I've gotten better at one facet of the game.''
With four starts since coming off the DL, Buchholz has answered any questions about his readiness to compete in the post-season. His 113 pitches Friday night were the most he's thown since being activated.
"He's answered the physical question, for sure,'' said Farrell. "On a night when he's not as sharp, he was still able to keep (the Orioles) in check and give us seven very good innings.''
"I feel good when I'm out there,'' he said, "and I guess that's the only physical test in my mind. That will override everything else: being able to go out there and get over 100 pitches, get into the seventh inning...I'm pretty much good-to-go.''
Next up for Buchholz will be a start in the Division Series, likely in Game 3, a week from Monday.
"It's a neat time of year to be around,'' concluded Buchholz, "knowing your season's going to be extended. Now it's just a waiting game to see who we play and when and where. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.''