Fatigued Buchholz comes undone in sixth inning

Fatigued Buchholz comes undone in sixth inning
October 14, 2013, 2:45 am
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Clay Buchholz threw 85 pitches in five innings in Game 6 of the ALCS.

(AP Photo)

BOSTON - Maybe it was because he felt the pressure of not making any mistakes, watching his teamamtes dominated, for the second straight night by the Detroit Tigers' pitching staff.
     
Maybe he felt the need to be perfect, knowing how little offense his own club was generating.
     
But whatever the reason, Clay Buchholz's start in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series wasn't what he -- or the Sox - had been hoping or expecting.
     
Buchholz, who took a no-decision in his Game 3 start in the Division Series against Tampa Bay, was charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings. Only the late-game heroics from David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia took Buchholz off the hook from a loss.
     
For the first five innings, Buchholz had limited the Tigers to a single run, keeping the Red Sox in the game even as they racked up strikeouts at a record pace.
     
But in the sixth, as if the pressure of keeping his team afloat had become too much, Buchholz began to sink. He allowed a solo homer to Miguel Cabrera and then four hits to the next five hitters, including a run-scoring double to Victor Martinez and a two-run homer to catcher Alex Avila.
     
"I felt really good going into (the sixth)," said Buchholz. "But a couple of pitches there that I can't miss with, to guys like Miguel and Avila . . . They have some guys in that lineup that hit mistakes very well."
     
"I don't think Clay has his best stuff, obviously," said Saltalamacchia, whose opposite-field single in the bottom of the ninth produced the game-winning run. "The cutter was kind of backing up on him. They're an aggressive team and they didn't miss any mistakes. And I think he was just starting to get a little tired and leaving some pitches up a little bit."
     
Against the Rays in the last round, Buchholz made just one mistake: a pitch that Evan Longoria hit out for a three-run homer.
     
But Sunday night against the Tigers, he began to fall apart, one hitter after another.
     
"I just missed," said Buchholz. "My execution wasn't nearly as sharp. I felt like I was sort of throwing through my delivery rather than staying in it and pitches ended up being (over the) middle and up out over the plate. Like I said, you can't leave pitches up to a team like that. They'll make you pay for it.
     
"That what's they do."
     
And so they did. The odd thing was that Buchholz felt good about his outing over the first five. Perhaps he wasn't piling up the swings and misses that Detroit start Max Scherzer was getting, but Buchholz had limited the Tigers to a single run.
     
In the second, a one-out double by Martinez followed by singles from Jhonny Peralta and a single by Avila.
     
That was it. Other than the second, with those strung together, Buchholz hadn't allowed any other hits through five.
     
"That's as good as I've felt, even in the beginning of the season, this year," said Buchholz. "I felt good with command of all the pitches I was throwing."
     
But as the game wore on, he tired some, to say nothing of the mental fatigue.
     
"It's tough, as the game is going on, to know that a no-hitter is being thrown against you," Buchholz said. "Anything you do, it's magnified. It definitely plays a role. But as a pitcher, you can't go out there thinking about what the other guy's doing. You've got to be worried about what  you're doing and I just let it get away from me a little bit."
     
But his teammates got it back for him, getting him off the hook and tying the series.
     
"It's big," said Buchholz. "That was a momentum shift in our direction because it's a pretty hard-fought loss for them. Having the series tied 1-1 and going there rather than being down 0-2, it's a big deal."