Clay Buchholz Takes Step In Right Direction, Still Recognizes Room To Improve

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Clay Buchholz Takes Step In Right Direction, Still Recognizes Room To ImproveClay Buchholz is still shaking off the rust.

For the fourth-straight start of the 2012 season, Buchholz surrendered at least five runs. Despite earning the victory in the 7-6 nail-biter over the Twins, the right-hander hasn't looked as sharp as he's proven to be in the past. After exiting, his ERA now sits at 8.87.

The lackluster start could be attributed to his long layoff, since Buchholz's 2011 season was shortened by a back injury he sustained last June 16. But he still made strides.

"If it wasn't for that sixth inning, it'd only [have been] two runs," Buchholz told reporters in Minnesota. "As far as individual standpoint, I got to do better. It's been a struggle with location and command of each pitch."

His subpar results started in the first inning, when Buchholz walked two batters. But the sixth inning proved to be his Achilles heel.

After fanning Sean Burroughs, Buchholz gradually unraveled, allowing three straight hits — two singles and a double ? before walking Jamey Carroll. As Wednesday's game went along, Buchholz barely used his changeup, a pitch that has been historically vital to his success.

The upside for Buchholz, who allowed five long balls in his last outing, was that he kept the baseball in Target Field. His curveball also showed significant progression.

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