By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- They had arrived at their hotel here shortly before 7 a.m. Friday morning, having left New York hours earlier after a rain delay added 3 12 hours to their work schedule Thursday.
They trudged into the clubhouse mid-afternoon and were running low on energy. To keep their six-game winning streak going and maintain their perfect road trip after a sweep of the Yankees, the Red Sox would need the help of their starter, Clay Buchholz.
Long innings in the field would be worse than usual on this night. The Red Sox dearly needed efficiency and Buchholz provided plenty of it.
Through the first five innings, he had three 1-2-3 frames and another in which he faced just four hitters. He permitted just three baserunners in that span, and one was beyond his responsibility -- an error by shorstop Jed Lowrie.
He wasn't just good, he was quick -- exactly what the Sox needed to post an efficient 5-1 victory, their seventh in a row.
"Buck pitched great and it was a big win,'' noted Dustin Pedroia, who, having stopped in Boston Thursday for a checkup on his knee, flew to Toronto Friday morning on normal sleep. "It was good to get on the board before they did and let Buck do his thing.
"He had quick innings, his tempo was great. He threw the ball great against a really good lineup. He did a great job.''
Buchholz was working on two extra days' rest, thanks to some concerns about back tightness that dated back a few starts.
But Friday, he wasn't restricted at all. His fastball was crisp and his breaking pitches -- his curveball in particular -- had some finish that was missing last time out.
Buchholz had tried to fly ahead a night early to Toronto, but his flight was canceled in New York and he had to travel with the team, arriving in the wee hours.
"Once you step between the lines,'' he said, "everything usually stops for you and then you can run on some adrenaline. My bullpen session before the game wasnt as good as Id like it to be, but as soon as a hitter steps in the box, it changed for us and me and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia were on the same page for the most part, kept the flow of the game going, and felt pretty good.''
Best of all, Buchholz was worry-free after pitching with some trepidation in his last outing.
"It's still there a little bit,'' he said of some nagging back discomfort, "but it's not near what it was. When youve got something nagging, you dont want to mess it up any more than it already is, so you try to favor it a little bit. Today I wasnt favoring it and I was able to get some good extension on pitches I needed to be extended on.''