If there ever was an argument against judging pitchers by their win-loss records, this game was it. Clay Buchholz and Jose Quintana dazzled hitters through eight innings on Thursday night, each attempting to one-up the other.
When the dust appeared to have settled, Buchholz was in line for a loss heading into the ninth, with Quintana shutting out the Sox through eight.
Cody Ross knew he had to do something about it — and hit a walk-off three-run homer. Afterwards, Ross was effusive in praise for his teammate, giving a nod to the starter’s performance.
“He definitely didn’t deserve the loss,” Ross said
Bobby Valentine agreed, one-upping Ross with praise for the right-hander.
“Clay was excellent,” the manager declared. “He was perfect. He had a good breaking ball, excellent fastball, both changeups down, competitive the whole way. He looked great.”
Buchholz mixed in all of his pitches effectively on Thursday, keeping the White Sox hitters off balance the entire night. While he did allow one run in the fourth inning, the success of his secondary pitches is encouraging many to begin comparing Buchholz to his old self.
“Last couple of times out, my two-seam fastball has been the pitch it was a couple of years ago for me,” the 27-year-old said, referring to his 2010 season.
That magical 2010 season, Buchholz made his first All-Star team, finishing the year 16-6 with a 2.33 ERA. Since then, he’s been sidetracked by injuries and ineffectiveness, but showed flashes on Thursday that a return to form could be right around the corner.
“Having a feel for a couple of offspeed pitches helps, because then you’re not afraid to throw them later in the game,” he explained. “That’s where I’m at right now.”
And where he is right now is with a chance to dominate every time he takes the mound, something the league may have to soon take notice of.
“When he’s going, he’s as tough as anybody in the league, and he’s proven that,” Cody Ross said of his teammate. “And he’s starting to get that confidence, and we need that.”
Buchholz was going on Thursday night. If he can keep it that way, look out.