Notes: A long, strong night for Buchholz

Notes: A long, strong night for Buchholz
May 19, 2011, 6:35 am
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By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz threw more pitches, 127, than hed ever thrown before.

It was more pitches than any other Red Sox starter this season, and any other pitcher in baseball besides Philadelphias Roy Halladay, who threw 130 on April 24 against the Padres.

It was more pitches than just about any pitcher had ever thrown in a Sox uniform for manager Terry Francona. The last Sox pitcher who threw more was Jon Lester, in his no-hitter almost three years ago to the day May 19, 2008 against the Royals.

Buchholz went seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 3.42, giving up four hits and a walk, matching a season high with seven strikeouts, helping the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 1-0, on a miserably rainy night at Fenway Park.

He was terrific, and he needed to be, because their guy Tigers starter Phil Coke was pretty good, too, said manager Terry Francona. "He had a high pitch count, but I think part of it is he threw a lot of strikes. Just ran to lot a 3-and-2 counts, lot of swings and misses. The couple times he got in a bind he pitched out of it. And good changeup. Elevated his fastball when he wanted to. And really pitched well.

Despite his efforts, though, he did not get the win. Jarrod Saltalamacchias double off the Wall in the eighth inning scored Carl Crawford for the games only run. But by that time, Buchholz had given way to Daniel Bard, who earned his first win of the season.

"He was on tonight, Saltalamacchia said of Buchholz. He's been on the last three starts I've caught him. Had that sinker working, keeping the ball down. A lot of his pitches were foul balls. They kept fouling them and working the pitch count. He still gave us strong innings and got us what we needed.

It was not an easy night to pitch rainy, cold, foggy, and windy. The game had a 26-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth.

"Yeah it's tough, Saltalamacchia said. Rain's coming. Sitting there in cold. Tough to go out there. Both pitchers Buchholz and Coke were prepared.

The Tigers lefty matched Buchholz, going seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, needing just 78 pitches.

It was just the elements of playing here, Buchholz said. This homestand, this stretch of weather that weve had, I dont think its easy for anybody to go out there and throw. Their guy matched every pitch I threw only about half of them though. It was tough at times but thats some of the things you have to deal with.

Buchholz was pleased with all his pitches, especially his two-seam fastball and cutter. He retired the first eight batters he faced before walking Brandon Inge. He didnt allow a hit until Miguel Cabreras double with two outs in the fourth. The walk to Inge was the only one of the game, setting a career-long streak of three starts with one or fewer walks.

Two-seam was there again tonight. Felt good with the cutter. Threw a lot of cutters there at the end, just a pitch they were making contact with but wasnt squaring it up. So I guess got to keep throwing whats working for you. Threw some really good pitches they fouled off and went into some deep counts. Probably didn't throw enough curveballs. Had a good curveball tonight but after the fourth or fifth innings didnt go back to it because I felt really good throwing the changeup or two-seam in.

He was not affected, he said, by the number of pitches or the weather.

I felt pretty good, he said. I was trying to overthrow a couple of times. Sometimes when you throw harder it doesnt come out near as good so I think that was something that had to do with that. Body felt good, legs felt fine. I felt like I still had my legs underneath me. It was the first time Ive done that so I was obviously looking over at the scoreboard seeing how many pitches Id thrown and you're almost at he end of it but I was glad that Tito left me out there without giving up all those runs. I felt better me giving them up than somebody else feeling sorry about it.

He also matched his career high with two hit two batters in the seventh -- Jhonny Peralta with one out and Brandon Inge with two outs -- which he set on June 20, 2010 against the Dodgers. It was the first time he has hit a batter this season.

I just didnt want to miss middle, he said. Supposed be sinkers in. Just came out wrong. Definitely not trying hit anybody in that position.

With two-fifths of the Red Sox starting rotation going to the disabled list this week John Lackey Monday with an elbow strain and Daisuke Matsuzaka Wednesday with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament Buchholz said he felt no more responsibility to go deep into the game than he would on any other night.

No, our bullpen is good, he said. They can come in and do the job if one of the starters doesnt do it. My mindsets going out there and trying to pitch deep in the game regardless of whats going on with everyone else. Just trying to help this team get back in the dugout and score some runs for us.

Not everyone saw it that way, though.

Buchholz was phenomenal, said Jonathan Papelbon, who earned his eighth save with a scoreless ninth. He was able to hand the ball off to Bard, then myself. That for us is huge, not only for this game but tomorrow as well.

One game after compiling a season-high 15 hits in a nine-inning game, the Sox had just four, all singles, except for Saltalamacchia's RBI double in the eighth.

Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-2 extending his hit streak to six games. He is batting .348 (8-for-23) in that stretch.

Jed Lowrie went 1-for-2 off Phil Coke and is now 8 for his last 13 (.615) off left-handers since the start of May.

Saltalamacchia has 10 RBI for the season, and five have come in "close and late" situations.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen