Buchholz struggles in first start of the season

Buchholz struggles in first start of the season
April 6, 2014, 12:30 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz's fastball hovered in the high 80-mile-per-hour range. His curveball was almost non-existent. It was clear he didn't have his best stuff early. His location, too, was off the mark.

It was a bad combination, and the resulting ugliness shined bright in the crooked numbers of the box score: 4.1 innings, 13 hits, 6 earned runs. And it might have been worse than the numbers showed.

"I missed with a lot of pitches tonight," Buchholz said, "and when I did, they seemed to put the barrel on it and find some holes."

The Brewers squared up Buchholz pitches with regularity starting in the first inning. Buchholz escaped with just one run allowed in the opening frame, but in the second, a couple of mammoth power displays proved just where Buchholz's repertoire stood Saturday: Mark Reynolds roped a solo home run that was ricocheting off the Monster seats not long after contact; three batters later Carlos Gomez tattooed another solo homer off of the light tower in left field.

"Obviously a couple of the home runs they were on pitches that were not where they were supposed to be," said Buchholz, whose fastball to Reynolds was about letter-high. "Just a lot of mistakes that they found holes for."

The Red Sox aimed to ease Buchholz into the regular season by making him their No. 5 starter to begin the year. He said he felt fine physically on Saturday night, save for the fact that it took him a little longer than usual to get loose when the temperature at Fenway Park for the first pitch was at about 50 degrees.

"I felt fine," he said. "It took a little bit to get loose. It was pretty cold out there. But other than that it was basically just missing middle of the plate or missing up. I don't think I threw one good pitch that they hit that I'll look back on and say, 'I don't think he  should've hit that pitch.' That's the way it goes."

Catcher AJ Pierzynski had a similar take on Buchholz's rocky four-plus innings.

"I know what Clay has and I know what Clay's capable of," Pierzynski said. "He was trying to battle. He just made mistakes and they didn't miss them. Just one of those nights."

Buchholz is slated to make his next start in Yankee Stadium next week. He said he's not concerned about his perceived lack of velocity -- he only broke 90 mph a handful of times against the Brewers -- and he's looking forward to putting forth a better performance in his subsequent outing.

"I've been around for a little bit so you can't dwell on your last start," he said. "Do that it's probably not going to work out too well for you. Put in the work that I have to do for that start against the Yankees."