Valentine: Buchholz 'hasn't hit his stride yet'

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Valentine: Buchholz 'hasn't hit his stride yet'

BOSTON Despite being one of just two starting Red Sox pitchers (with Felix Doubront) with a winning record, Clay Buchholz (2-1, 8.87 ERA) has struggled through most of his four starts this season. He earned a win in his last start, April 25 in Minnesota, when he went 5 13 innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits. He left with the bases loaded with all three runs eventually scoring.

Manager Bobby Valentine has seen progress.

Ive seen constant improvement, Valentine said. You know, step by step. He had a couple of bullpens between starts where he looked real sharp. I think hes ready to do what he can do consistently. Hes had all his pitches. He hasnt really strung them together like he can.

Valentine, though, is still getting to know each of Buchholz, so its difficult for him to judge the right-handers progress by his pitches.

Its hard for me to tell, Valentine said. Im not judging against what Ive seen in the past so Im just going pitch by pitch and game by game. It seems to me he has a changeup and hes throwing his changeup down and being able to throw that when hes behind in the count to get some outs and ground balls. I think that could be a plus. Hes a good pitcher. He hasn't hit his stride yet.

In five career starts against Oakland, Buchholz has a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 7.84 and opponents average of .354, both marks are his highest against any opponent. He made two starts against the As in 2011, going 1-0 (5.40). He threw a total of 10 innings, allowing six earned runs. The last time he faced Oakland was June 3 at Fenway. He did not factor into the decisions, going 4 23 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.

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