Buchholz, Farrell encouraged by improvement

Buchholz, Farrell encouraged by improvement
April 11, 2014, 1:00 am
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NEW YORK -- Lost somewhat in the controversy surrounding the pine tar that appeared on Michael Pineda's right palm Thursday night was the effort of the other starting pitcher: Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz had been shelled for six runs and 13 hits in just 4 1/3 innings in his season debut last Saturday against Milwaukee at Fenway Park. His second start, while not enough to avoid a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees, was a significant step forward.

"He was better than his last time out,'' said John Farrell. "He had better power and action to his stuff through the strike zone, with much more consistent location.''

Buchholz held the Yankees scoreless through the first three innings before a misplay behind him in the fourth led to two unearned runs for the Yankees.

Third baseman Jonathan Herrera bobbled a routine chopper by Jacoby Ellsbury and two singles later and a double play resulted in a 2-0 New York edge.

Given that the Red Sox mustered just four hits off Pineda -- and were then held hitless by the Yankee bullpen for the final three innings -- that was enough for the home team.

Buchholz later gave up a solo homer Dean Anna, a double to Brian McCann and a run-scoring single to Ellsbury as the Yankees built a 4-0 lead from which the Red Sox couldn't recover.

Still, this was far better than his debut. Buchholz didn't issue a single walk and struck out six.

"I felt a lot better,'' said Buchholz, who was tagged with the loss. "I felt, just in the last five days, the arm strength and everything got a lot better in a five-day span, which usually doesn't happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight.

"I [should] have minimized the damage a little better in a couple of spots, but other than that, I thought I threw the ball pretty well.''

Buchholz's velocity showed an uptick. After sitting mostly 88-90 with his fastball last weekend, Buchholz regularly hit 92 mph with his fastball Thursday, the result of improved arm strength.

"I felt like the velocity was better whenever I reached back and threw,'' he said. "I'm not sating I was trying to throw as hard as I could every pitch, but a couple of situations, you feel you like you need to reach back and get a little extra and it felt better coming out tonight.''

Beyond the extra life on his fastball, Buchholz also noted improvement with his secondary pitches.

"It did, actually,'' he said. "The home run was a split that I tried to bury and I left it middle. I think it was down, but to a lefthander, with that [short] porch in right field, that's the last spot you want to leave a pitch.''

Catcher A.J. Pierzinski said his batterymate looked "more like Clay Buchholz'' than the pitcher who was battered by the Brewers Saturday.

"We talked [about the poor outing],'' said Pierzynski, "and he was like, 'Hey, let's just move on.' You don't want to rehash it when you have a bad start. We talked before the game today and it just seemed like he was much more confident going into the game than he was the other day and the results showed.''

Buchholz had complained about experiencing something of a "dead arm'' prior to his first start, a condition that ordinarily hits pitchers midway through spring training, but for Buchholz, may have been delayed due to his light off-season workload.

"I thought it was a positive step for him tonight,'' concluded Farrell.