Buchholz sharp in shortened return

Buchholz sharp in shortened return
June 3, 2013, 1:15 am
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NEW YORK -- Clay Buchholz endured a 10-day layoff, some stops and starts with his proposed return to the mound, and a 45-minute rain delay in which not a single drop of rain fell.
      
In the end, none of it mattered.
      
Making his first start since May 22, Buchholz was just as good after his week and a half absence as he had been before, shutting out the New York Yankees over five innings while allowing just two hits in a rain-shortened 3-0 victory Sunday.
      
Buchholz fanned four, didn't walk a batter and improved to 8-0 with the decision that saw his ERA sink to 1.62, the lowest for any Red Sox pitcher after his first 11 starts since Pedro Martinez (1.44) in 2001.
      
"It looked after the first inning, he started to get better touch and feel," remarked John Farrell, "and the last couple or three innings was as sharp as he's been all season. With the assortment of pitches, ahead in the count, it looked like he could go to any single pitch in a given situation. He had them being tentative, where they were unsure what pitch was going to come in what sequence."
      
That's what Buchholz had done for the first seven weeks of the season, but after experiencing some discomfort in his collarbone more than a week ago, the Sox first skipped his next start, then pushed back his scheduled return for two more days.
      
Buchholz merely picked up where he left off.
      
He allowed just three baserunners in his five innings -- a one-out walk to Robinson Cano in the first; a two-out infield single in front of the second base bag to Ichiro Suzuki in the second; and a leadoff single to right by Austin Romine to open the third.
      
But the night was far from routine.
      
First, the start of the game was delayed by 45 minutes, with the tarp placed on the field without a single drop of rain falling. Later, following a delay in the top of the sixth, play resumed for exactly four minutes before the heaviest rain of the night fell, leading, eventually, to the contest
being cut short.
      
"Probably one of the strangest things I've ever been a part of," marveled Buchholz.
      
Once the first delay began, with Buchholz having thrown five innings and 71 pitches, the Sox didn't want him returning -- especially given the cirumstances of his layoff.
      
"I felt good," said Buchholz, "but coming off a little layoff in between starts, I'll take it for what it is. I got back out there, got most of the work in that I felt like I needed to do to help this team win. The offense did the rest."
      
As a reward for enduring the strangeness, Buchholz will get credit for a complete-game shutout.
      
"That," said Buchholz, "is awesome."
      
In past seasons, even when he otherwise pitched well, Buchholz struggled mightily against the Yankees, with a 2-5 mark a 7.19 ERA. This season, he's already recorded two wins against them, in Yankee Stadium, and has allowed just one run in 12 innings for a 0.75 ERA.
      
He credits that -- and his season in general -- to his teammates.
      
"I've felt really good up to this point," he said. "It's not just me, it's the guys playing behind me making plays that a lot of guys don't make. It's fun to run back out there and know that you can give up some hard-hit balls and know that if it's in the range of one of our infielders or the three outfielders we have out there, it has a chance to be caught.
      
"It makes you feel a little bit more confident going into a game, having that, and I'm just trying to ride the wave. It's been fun and once you get complacent with it, that's when it turns, so I'm trying to do everything the same in between each start."
      
Even, in this case, with 10 days off since his last one.