Clay Buchholz’s Winning Effort Mostly Good, But Strange Outing Also Includes Bad, Ugly Moments

Clay BuchholzBOSTON — Clay Buchholz’s outing consisted of the good, the bad and the ugly. Fortunately for the Red Sox, the good outweighed everything else.

Buchholz was once again sharp on Saturday. The right-hander pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just two runs while guiding the Red Sox to a 7-2 victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Angels. The victory improved Buchholz’s perfect record to 9-0, and it helped salvage a split of the twin bill.

That was the good.

Buchholz couldn’t complete the seventh inning, though. He recorded two outs before manager John Farrell and members of the Red Sox’ training staff headed out to the mound to check on Buchholz, who could be seen stretching out his right arm a bit. The decision was then made to take Buchholz out, at which point Craig Breslow entered the game.

That was the bad.

Buchholz’s injury was described as neck stiffness, and the right-hander said he started feeling discomfort after a strange play in the sixth inning. Howie Kendrick drilled a line drive right back at Buchholz, who threw up his glove to make a play. The ball struck near the palm of his glove hand and ricocheted away, at which point Buchholz ditched the glove, gave chase, picked up the ball behind the mound and fired to first base in an unsuccessful attempt to throw out Kendrick.

The sixth-inning scare, which brought Farrell and the training staff out, was the second awkward play involving Buchholz in the game. In the fourth inning, Alberto Callaspo chopped a ball to the right side. Buchholz came off the mound to try and make what should have been a routine play. The ball bounced off his glove, though, and Buchholz ended up hitting the deck while trying to wrangle it near the first base line. The righty eventually got a handle on it, and he reached out while on his back just in time to tag Callaspo for the out. Buchholz popped back up, but not before the ultimate “athletic unathletic play,” as he described it.

That was the ugly.

The end result was still what Buchholz and the Red Sox set out to accomplish, as they emerged victorious after a disappointing loss in Saturday’s matinee. The whole injury thing leaves a little bit of uneasiness, though.

It appears the Red Sox dodged a bullet, and the decision to remove Buchholz was mostly the product of a cautious approach. But given Buchholz’s recent collarbone issue, it’s still alarming to think that the right-hander might now battle something else. The Red Sox cannot afford to lose Buchholz, who has been absolutely fantastic all season. He’s pitching at a Cy Young-caliber level right now, and his continued success is even more important during a time when Jon Lester is working through some issues.

When Buchholz takes the mound next, he’ll still be perfect. But he’ll also be looking to prove that Saturday’s premature exit isn’t anything to be worried about.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here

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