ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Hours and hours before the night ended in defeat for the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz started for the Red Sox.
Really. You could look it up.
"Shoot," said an exhausted Dustin Pedroia after the Red Sox fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 5-4 in 19 innings in game that lasted six hours and 31 minutes. "It was so long ago, I forgot he even pitched.''
Buchholz not only pitched, he pitched well.
He gave up hits to the first three hitters he faced and, for a time, it looked like this might be another rough start for Buchholz, who gave up seven runs in each of his previous two starts before Saturday night.
Instead, something clicked for Buchholz. He retired the next three hitters to freeze Albert Pujols (two-run double) at second. And he didn't allow another hit until the sixth or another run until the eighth.
"I thought tonight was probably his best outing of the year,'' said John Farrell, "even when you consider the start down in Houston [on July 13, a complete-game shutout]. He had a good curveball when he was in fastball counts to slow hitters down. He had three distinct pitches for stirkes. He was very much like the Clay Buchholz that we know.''
"Overall, I felt, as far as my body and control and command, it was probably up with the top two starts of the year for me,'' said Buchholz. "I felt good. In the bullpen, it was the best warmup I had all year, too.''
Buchholz found that his curve and changup, two pitches that haven't always been at his disposal this season, were both effective.
"Both,'' agreed Buchholz. "That sort of felt like last year. I threw them on any count. If I fell behind 2-and-0, I could throw a curveball for a strike and get back into the count. It gives the hitter something else to think about. That's pitching and that makes you realize even more how hard it is to go out there with two pitches.
"I felt good about it. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win the game and that didn't happen.''
Buchholz was touched for a tying homer by Mike Trout in the eighth, sending the game into the extra-inning rabbit hole.
"I felt like I could have done a better job there,' he said. "I I had known we were going to play 19 innings, I promise you I promise I wouldn't have given up a home run to Trout. I would have walked him.''
Buchholz was at 106 pitches after seven innings but, regardless of what happened with Trout, thought he had enough to back out there for the eighth.
Even the pitch to Trout wasn't a bad one, he thought.
"That's why who he is,'' said Buchholz. "I felt like it was a pretty good pitch. I looked at it a couple of times. It was down and away. There are only a couple of guys in baseball who can hit that pitch and he's one of them.
"If you're out there and you play that long, you might as well win the game. But it doesn't always work that way. You've got two teams going at it, for the same amount of time. It was a well-played game but they happened to get the last hit to win it.''