Buchholz left shaking his head after outing
Red Sox righty struggles with command, departs early
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was the night he was going to get stretched out to roughly four innings and further cement his place in the Red Sox's rotation. Instead, it turned out to be a Tuesday evening of frustration for right-hander Clay Buchholz.
Quite simply, nothing went right for Buchholz, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Twins, giving up four hits, six runs (five earned) and three walks. Buchholz struck out two, but uncorked three wild pitches.
"No explanation," Buchholz said. "I made some good pitches at certain times, but I just didn't make as many good pitches as I needed to. I had to adjust for being down in the zone in the first inning. I felt like I did a good job with damage control in the first inning, only giving up the one [run]."
In the second inning, it all fell apart.
"[I] went back out, got ahead of the first hitter, threw an all right pitch, but it just caught too much plate and he hit it," said Buchholz. "In my head, I knew they were going to run because just about all of them are pretty quick on the bases. I started thinking too much about them running and making a certain pitch at a certain time. I paid for it."
Buchholz's lack of command was evident by the fact that just 31 of his 60 pitches were for strikes.
"There were a couple pitches -- probably two or three -- that I thought were strikes that I didn't get," said Buchholz. "But that's definitely no excuse. I was trying to do too much. Whenever I thought I would make a good pitch, they'd hit it. Then I'd try to make it better, and that causes it to be out of the zone rather than just trusting the stuff down in the zone and getting some outs. I'll get this one behind me. I've got [the Twins] again in five days, I believe, so I'll go back at them."
With Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly certain to start the season on the disabled list, it would seem the Red Sox's much-discussed rotation glut won't be a factor initially. Then again, with all the scheduled off-days, the Sox might not need a No. 5 starter until April 18. Does Buchholz think his spot is secure?
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"That's not for me to decide," Buchholz said. "I definitely don't want to go out and give up six runs in two innings. There's always going to be games where things don't go well. I've done it in the past year, but rebounded the next game, come out and had a quality start and forgot about the game before."
Buchholz seemed to establish himself during the second half of last season, emerging into Boston's No. 3 starter down the stretch. That has given him hope and confidence entering 2010.
"Coming off of last year, I felt really good at the end of the year and in the middle of last year, when I got called up," Buchholz said. "I think once the season gets under way and it starts, I'll buckle down. I'll do what I need to do to help this team win. There's no added pressure, no stress for the season, but I feel like I could have a good year if I do all the little things right."
The Red Sox also believe deeply in Buchholz, and their opinion wasn't going to waver based on Tuesday's outing.
"You know what, I thought he tried to give up none and he ended up giving up a bunch," said manager Terry Francona. "He tried to be perfect and he ended up bouncing fastballs and throwing over to first. The inning got away. He didn't limit damage. It will give him and [pitching coach] John [Farrell] something to talk about [Wednesday]."
As for what Buchholz's exact role will be once the season starts, he still hasn't heard.
"They haven't said anything to me since the first day I got here for Spring Training," Buchholz said. "I'll just basically go out and pitch like I can, throw the ball well and let the organization decide what they want to do."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.