BOSTON -- This isn't how you draw it up. Not Clay Buchholz. Not Bobby Valentine. Not anybody.
But after Monday night's 11-6 win over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park, Buchholz improved his record to 3-1, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to record three wins this season.
Buchholz allowed six runs on seven hits, five walks, and a home run in 6.2 innings of work. He's now allowed at least five earned runs in each of his five starts this season.
Fortunately, for Buchholz, the Red Sox keep putting up more runs than he's giving up.
"I feel like it was my most positive outing, aside from the line," said Buchholz after the win.
That's because most of the damage came against him in the seventh inning, where Buchholz gave up five runs on three hits while walking two, before even getting the third out.
Former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick ended Buchholz' night by smashing a two-out, three-run home run into the Oakland bullpen, cutting Boston's lead to 11-6.
As Buchholz was taken out, he was visibly angry. He said it was because he felt the 1-2 curveball that Reddick hit was a good pitch. It was a combination of that and the fact that through six innings, Buchholz was cruising. He hadn't even thrown 80 pitches. And he allowed only one run on a second inning rundown that saw that run cross the plate just before the final out in the inning was made.
"I'm thinking I've got at least two more innings in me after the sixth, and then hand it off to one of the guys. But, it doesn't always happen like you plan on it happening," said Buchholz afterwards.
"I'm probably the only pitcher in baseball that's complaining about winning games," he added. "There's a lot of guys that are throwing the ball well, that are getting losses under their name. So, you've got to take it for what it's worth right now."
And for what it's worth, Buchholz leads the Red Sox in wins. But as for the issues at hand, which once again plagued Buchholz in the seventh inning on Monday night, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he "can't really define it."
"He did what he needed to do for those first six innings, for sure," said Valentine. "He had change ups down. His curveball was biting. His fastball was working. It's another one to build on. He's 3-1 now. So he can always look at that record and say, 'Hey, I'm 3-1, coming off a good outing,' for the next time he goes out there."
The next time he goes out there, Valentine would like to see him allow less hits (seven) and walks (five) than he did on Monday.
"I'm sure that pitching coach Bob McClure and I will put our heads together and try to get a good answer to what's causing it," said Valentine. "You know, they're not big hits. But the walks are concerning. Five walks is a lot, in seven innings."
But Buchholz didn't think so.
"I think I walked five guys, but I had my mind set that I wasn't giving into anybody tonight," he said. "There wasn't going to be a 3-1 fastball down the middle. I was just going to try to make them hit pitches that weren't set on a tee for them. So, I'll take five walks. And I think a couple of them scored. But that's just how I felt like I needed to pitch tonight."
He tied his season-high in strikeout totals, with five on the night. But Buchholz can credit most of that to a changeup that he said was "absolutely" his best changeup of the year.
"There were a couple mechanical things," said Buchholz. "It's hard to go in-depth without showing anybody. There was a couple things that we tweaked. We looked at a lot of video from 2010. That's when the change up was at its best. We saw a couple things from those videos, and tried to mix them in these last couple bullpen sessions.
"Today was the best changeup I've thrown all year. I wasn't second-guessing anything there. I was just throwing it like a fastball basically, just with a different grip."
Through six innings on Monday night, Buchholz was living up to the hype. Everything was going as he had planned it. And then came the seventh inning.
Other than his final stat line, Buchholz is right. Monday night was his most positive outing.