BOSTON - In Toronto last Saturday, after a rough first inning in which he allowed three runs, there were positive signs for Clay Buchholz, who finished with six shutout innings.
On Friday night, Buchholz offered a more complete outing, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing just one run on three hits.
"I would say this was a continuation of the final three innings in Toronto,'' said John Farrell after Buchholz's best outing of the year. "Each pitch had definition. His curveball had good depth and his cutter had good power and added tilt to it. He's just put himself in a better position with his delivery to execute pitches.
"I thought he continued the way he threw the ball the last time out in Toronto. He showed good tempo, the arm strength continues to climb and it's directly correlated to the action in his secondary pitches. This is a good hitting team that he was able to slow down with his off-speed pitches. It was a solid outing again here tonight.''
The only run allowed off Buchholz came in the third when a triple by John Jaso and a wild pitch combifned to get the A's on the board.
After that? Not much. Buchholz faced 17 more batters after the triple and the only base hit he allowed an infield single to Jaso in the fifth.
"I felt good,'' said Buchholz. "It's been a process between the last start and this start. As far as arm strength, it seems to be coming along pretty well. I think that was the last phase I was getting through -- getting arm strength fully back and trusting the pitches as I throw them."
Buchholz, like Farrell, traced his breakout to the last start.
"My velocity was up in Toronto,'' he said, "and I felt like that was a good starting point for me to be out there and feel comfortable with everything.''
Buchholz consistently hit 92 mph with his fastball and at times, was able to reach back and touch 94 mph Friday night, getting swings-and-misses at a regular rate and weak contact from A's hitters.
"It feels a little bit more free,'' said Buchholz of his delivery of late. "I think (picking up the) tempo within the delivery has a lot to do with that. I've worked on that a lot over the last eight to 10 days and that's helped. The arm strength is obviously coming along.''