BOSTON With a record of 3-1, Clay Buchholz is leading Red Sox pitchers. This, despite an ERA of 8.69 and not throwing a quality start yet in any of his five outings, the only Sox starter who has not done so.
Manager Bobby Valentine met with the right-hander Tuesday afternoon.
Monday night against the As, the team with the worst offense in baseball, Buchholz went 623 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, five walks, and a hit batter, with five strikeouts. He earned the win, but failed to get through seven innings despite a 10-run lead. He has gone seven innings just once, in his second start, against the Rays on April 14.
In several of his outings, most of the damage against him has been done in one big inning, as it was last night when the As scored five runs in the seventh a season high for runs scored in one inning for Oakland.
Much of Buchholzs success can be attributed to his American League-best run support average of 10.86. He was the beneficiary of all the teams offense last night in the 11-6 win.
Manager Bobby Valentine said Buchholz was dealing with a blister problem Monday night.
They tell me its a chronic, its a little thing that pops up often when hes throwing well because that curveball grip, Valentine said. It sure comes off the fingers so hot. And he doctors it and pitches with it. He never complained about it and it was never an issue during the game. Im bringing it up just because it popped up in the report after the game.
Still, Buchholz and Valentine have been able to see the positives in his outings.
He really liked the way the ball was coming out of his hand, Valentine said. So did pitching coach Bob McClure. So did I the majority of the time last night and I know everyone wants to look at the numbers and the numbers really arent pretty except for the 3-1 and a lot of innings havent been pretty. The idea that he can improve is absolutely paramount in all of our minds. He just left my office where we talked about that. Theres no doubt that he has plenty of room for improvement.
Perhaps Buchholz is still rusty after missing much of last season with a stress fracture in his lower back. He made his last start June 16, spending the rest of the season on the disabled list.
Its hard for me to tell what the cause and effect of these things are, Valentine said. Im not sure that hes totally comfortable with all of his pitches yet. I think he's had games where hes really liked his two-seamer, really liked his curve ball, really liked his changeup at different times. But they havent been the total package the entire time. Last night he pitched through a blister situation most of the night which might have contributed a little to his command. He does it often.
The pitches that he's featuring should be correlating to better numbers. They should correlate because they're pretty good pitches. Not a lot of the other arms in the league are featuring the pitches that he's featuring. I can't go by whats happened in the past because I really dont have that barometer.
Valentine met with Buchholz in his office Tuesday afternoon.
Just talked about whats going on, Valentine said. It was the most relaxed that I've seen him all year. The most natural. I think thats a good sign.