Clay Buchholz’ Performance Against Orioles Embodies His Season, Ability To Recover

Clay Buchholz' Performance Against Orioles Embodies His Season, Ability To RecoverClay Buchholz stumbled into trouble early on Thursday night in Baltimore, allowing three earned runs through the first two innings of the Red Sox' 6-3 victory over the Orioles.

The Sox starter hadn't allowed three earned runs total in any of the previous five starts heading into the series finale.

In April, May and parts of June, Buchholz was consistently victimized by those big innings and it resulted in his 9.09 ERA on May 6.

On Thursday, he shook off the early struggles with ease. As the game continued, Buchholz only shined brighter as he allowed just two hits through his next six innings of work. During that run, he even struck out the side in the sixth inning on just nine pitches.

"I saw one of the best competitors I saw all year," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters. "They jumped on his early pitches early. As soon as we showed him the offense was going to come back a little, he shut the door."

The performance wholly symbolized Buchholz's year. Like Thursday's game, Buchholz staggered through the beginning of the 2012 season, but has steamrolled the competition as the days roll on.

It marked the fourth time in six starts that Buchholz has gone at least eight innings –– a mark that dates back to July 19. Until that point in the season, the 27-year-old had only eaten eight innings on two occasions.

By the end of the night, Buchholz tossed 107 pitches –– 72 for strikes –– and surrendered just eight hits and three runs while striking out seven batters. Despite the early hiccups, it was the epitome of efficiency for Buchholz.

"They hit a couple hard balls early on and they found some holes," Buchholz said. "Guys were able to put some offense and put some runs and everything worked out. Everyone knows its been tough to come back. [I] tried to make some quality pitches. For the rest of the game after the third, I was able to keep them off balance a little bit."

Just as quick as he started sputtering, Buchholz recovered in impressive fashion. He mixed up his four pitches and wound up giving the Red Sox exactly what they needed against the Orioles.

"Gutsy," Cody Ross told reporters of the right-hander's performance. "[He] struggled early and just came out and put it behind him and got strike one and got quick outs. He pitched outstanding."

In the process, he collected his team-leading 11th win of the season.

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