Buchholz fastball reaches 94 mph in loss to Cubs

Buchholz fastball reaches 94 mph in loss to Cubs
July 2, 2014, 1:15 am
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BOSTON -- The Clay Buchholz Redemption Tour continued at Fenway Park Tuesday night.

While the Red Sox could not muster the offense to support him, the 29-year-old righty put on his second consecutive strong start in a 2-1 loss to the Cubs.

In 6.1 innings his fastball reached up to 94 miles per hour, and he allowed just one run on five hits. He did not walk a batter (though he hit two), and his pitch count reached an even 100.

In his return from the disabled list last week in Seattle, he made it through 7.1 innings on 76 pitches and allowed four runs.

Now that he's fixed the mechanical flaws that had him over-rotating in his motion earlier this season, he's been freed up to pitch without the burden of over-thinking every delivery.

"It's tough going out there and having to do that and think of two or three different things while pitching in a game," Buchholz said. "The step back that it took to try to get everything back to square one, it looks like it was the best decision. I'm confident when I go out there, I feel like I can throw all my pitches for strikes and I think that's probably about it."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game that he hoped Buchholz would be able to build on his last outing. In his opinion, Buchholz did that and then some.

"This is the second straight start since being activated, he's pitched very well," Farrell said. "Into the seventh inning with one run allowed, getting to a pitch count that he hasn't gotten to for the better part of this year.

"I thought he had good stuff. Probably one of the better fastballs he's had this entire season."

Buchholz said that his fastball -- which topped out in the upper-80s earlier in the spring while he struggled -- "felt as good as it's felt all year."

It helped him retire 13 Cubs hitters in a row at one point and allowed the Red Sox to continue a streak in which they have limited opponents to three runs or less in each of their last 14 home games, the longest streak in team history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Catcher AJ Pierzynski said that the action on Buchholz's pitches, not just his fastball, was at a level Tuesday he had not yet this season.

"He was good," Pierzynski said. "His stuff in Seattle was better than it had been before he went on the DL and then tonight it was even better. He looks like he's getting back closer to where he needs to be and where he's been, where I've seen him in the past. Hopefully he'll continue to build off this and in five days he'll pitch even better. He looks better, he looks more comfortable out there and that's what we want."

Buchholz ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff double to Justin Ruggiano. No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney followed that up with a single on an 0-2 curveball and Chris Coghlan came through with a hard-hit grounder that resulted in a fielder's choice but brought Ruggiano home. 

"Had that one inning where your team scores and basically you don't want to not have a clean inning when you get back out there," Buchholz said. "Wasn't able to do that, but for the most part felt pretty good with just about all the pitches I threw."

If Buchholz can become a reliable option every fifth day, the team's strength -- its starting pitching -- becomes only that much deeper.
 
With the way the Red Sox have been hitting lately, they'll need him to.