Buchholz setting the tone for Red Sox pitchers

Buchholz setting the tone for Red Sox pitchers
May 23, 2013, 2:00 am
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CHICAGO -- Clay Buchholz is about as close to a sure thing as anyone in baseball right now. With the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the White Sox in the road trip finale Wednesday night, he improved to 7-0, lowering his ERA to 1.73. Buchholz joined Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore, at 8-0, and Arizona’s Patrick Corbin (7-0) as the only undefeated pitchers with at least seven wins this season.

The Sox are 9-1 in his 10 starts. He has given up fewer than three runs in nine of his 10 starts, and has gone at least six innings in all 10 starts, with nine quality starts, two shy of his career-high streak from May 27 – Aug. 16, 2012.

Buchholz went seven innings Wednesday, giving up one run on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts, throwing 113 pitches, 71 for strikes. But it was not without some challenges.

Facing five batters in the first inning, when he threw 21 pitches, just nine for strikes, he allowed the first three batters to reach base on a single and two walks. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw out Chicago lead-off hitter Alejandro De Aza, who led off with a single, attempting to steal second. After walking Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, Buchholz struck out Adam Dunn and got Paul Konerko, getting out of the inning with no runs.

He allowed the lead-off batters to reach in five of the first six innings, all by hits. But he only allowed one run. Chicago’s No. 9 batter, Tyler Flowers, led off the third with an infield single. After a walk to De Aza, Ramirez hit into a fielder’s choice and Alex Rios grounded out, scoring Flowers, cutting the Red Sox' lead, 2-1.

But that was all the White Sox would get off Buchholz, who settled down and got into a rhythm as the game went on.

“He had to pitch around some men on base,” said manager John Farrell. “He continued to take his time, make quality pitches, put a number of balls on the ground, that for whatever reason, whether it was the soft grounds didn’t have the pace that are normally turned to double plays that might have prevented that pitch count that got up there. But he kept us in check.”

Having the lead-off batters on base may have helped Buchholz’s approach with the White Sox.

“Yeah, it’s been that way a lot of times I’ve pitched in the past couple years,” he said. "But sometimes getting into the stretch and pitching more out of the stretch during those games, it almost helps you limit the movement that you have to do. It was good. I felt pretty decent out of the stretch tonight. Didn’t feel like I was rushing anything like I have in the past. Like I say, it’s a game. It’s fun when it’s going good, but definitely got to know how to take it when it doesn’t go so well.”

Although this was the first decision he’s earned since May 1, taking three straight no-decisions, Buchholz has little reason to worry about things not going so well so far this season.

“Well when you look at the bottom line it’s because he’s got a number of pitches he can go to in different spots,” Farrell said. “He’s not going to rely solely on his fastball. I thought he had a very good curveball again tonight. But when you consider out of spring training, and really all with the exception of his first start in spring training, he’s pitched with very similar approach and effectiveness. Not just the 10 starts in the season but the other five in spring training. And he has certainly set the tone for us on the mound.”