BOSTON — One three-batter stretch in the fourth inning Monday killed Clay Buchholz’s stat line.
Buchholz allowed two home runs — a solo homer to Adam Dunn in the second inning and a three-run blast to Dayan Viciedo in the fourth — as the Red Sox fell to the Chicago White Sox 4-0 at Fenway Park. The right-hander otherwise looked sharp in what could be considered another step forward for him since returning from the disabled list.
“If you’re not looking at the line or the winning and losing pitcher, yeah, that’s the best I’ve felt,” Buchholz said after Monday’s loss. “The most crisp curveball (I’ve had), the changeup finally came there in the last three innings I was out there. That’s as close to last year as I’ve felt.”
Buchholz retired the final 10 batters he faced Monday after a rough fourth inning in which a double and a walk preceded Viciedo’s game-changing homer. Monday’s outing marked Buchholz’s third start since being activated off the DL, and he has lasted into the seventh inning of each. Overall, it’s an encouraging sign considering Buchholz lasted less than five innings in five of his 10 starts before landing on the DL at the end of May.
“With the exception of a three-hitter span in the fourth inning, I thought Clay had powerful stuff for the full seven innings of work (Monday),” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Maintained his velocity. I thought he had definition to the four different types of pitches that he throws.”
Buchholz’s offspeed stuff was especially good Monday. The pitcher said after the game he messed around with a couple of different grips on his changeup and ultimately found one that proved successful. Buchholz struck out seven and walked one over his seven innings, with six of the strikeouts coming over the final 3 1/3 frames.
“Within each outing, it’s improved the touch and the feel of it as he’s gotten into the given outing,” Farrell said of Buchholz’s offspeed stuff. “I thought he started to throw some very good changeups probably in the fourth inning on (Monday). … I think he’s doing a much better job repeating his delivery post-the DL stint.”
The Red Sox never stood a chance Monday despite Buchholz’s effort. While Buchholz took a step forward, Boston’s bats continued to trend in the other direction, mustering just two hits while being blanked by the combination of Scott Carroll, Javy Guerra and Zach Putnam.