Clay Buchholz isn’t making the AL All-Star team this year. He won’t be winning any awards. And he likely won’t even be appreciated for his contributions to a middling Red Sox roster. But in each of his past four outings, Buchholz has continued to prove not only his worth but his immeasurable importance to the team’s success.
Once again on Tuesday evening, Buchholz dazzled on the mound for the Red Sox. The 27-year-old utilized each of his pitches throughout seven innings of work and displayed what was likely his best all-around performance of the season, allowing just one run and striking out nine in the 2-1 win.
But the starter’s body of work was much more than just what a appeared on the stat sheet, as he not only contained some of Miami’s most potent bats — most notably striking out Giancarlo Stanton in each of the slugger’s three at bats — but also relieved much of the pressure off of his own offensive unit.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine showered praise on Buchholz for his impressive performance, even calling the outing “outstanding.”
“Clay stayed with it, gave us seven strong innings,” Valentine said of Buchholz. “And boy did we need it.”
The performance helped Buchholz drop his ERA — now 5.38 — to the lowest it’s been since his first start of the season, a feat Buchholz is surely grateful for and only hoping to continue improving upon. But the bigger accomplishment was that which the team was able to see through.
The win brought an end to the Red Sox four-game losing streak and will hopefully reignite a stagnant offense that has tapered off severely from their blistering pace, in recent weeks. Sometimes it’s hitting that helps propel a pitcher through his struggles, but this time it appears it’s Buchholz strong pitching that is actually offering some solace for the quiet bats.
If it weren’t for Buchholz, the Red Sox would have never had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, inning nevermind the willpower to even start such a rally. Buchholz has truly been the steadying presence necessary for the Red Sox offense over the past few weeks, consistently offering them a breather and a chance to work and battle their way back into a rhythm.
Valentine said of the win, “they’re character builders.” And building character is something this team desperately needs after a horribly inconsistent — well, that may even be an understatement — start to the season.
No single sequence in the game showed more character than the way Buchholz handled the seventh inning. After taking a two-run lead in the top half of the seventh, Buchholz allowed a leadoff home run to cut the lead in half. But while the Marlins hopes skyrocketed, Buchholz settled in. He struck out Gaby Sanchez promptly after the homer, reasserting his dominance on the mound. Then after appearing woozy from a collision with Chris Coghlan, he got John Buck to flyout to center and end the inning.
His blatant willingness to fight through the pain following the collision, and the determination to finish off the inning are proof that Buchholz is not only a great asset but the heart and soul of the Red Sox club.
Buchholz improvement from being potentially the worst starter in the majors at season’s start to arguably the Red Sox best in his current form has been nothing short of inspirational. The hope now though, is that outings such as his on Tuesday will continue to inspire and build character for a team desperately in need.