Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
Clay Buchholz looked like a previous version of himself on Friday night, and one that Red Sox fans hope they can count on in the future as well.
After allowing five or more runs in each of his first six starts on the season, Buchholz settled into a nice groove Friday night and led Boston to a much-needed victory over the Indians. But it may have been the magic words of his manager that finally got the former Cy Young award candidate to return to his old self.
After allowing one run and hitting a batter to load the bases in the first inning, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine paid his starter a visit. The conversation didn't last that long, but, much like Valentine's visit with Felix Doubront earlier in the week, it was extremely effective.
"I told him everyone behind him thought he was a good pitcher — just prove it to the guys in front of him," Valentine said after the game.
The interaction may have involved a few other choice words, as Valentine noted in his postgame news conference, but the impact was noticeable.
Buchholz found an earlier version of himself on that mound Friday, working his way out of jams and allowing his defense to make plays around him. It was like popping a tape into the old VHS player and it streaming the game live — a sight to see.
Valentine has certainly had his fair share of mistakes on the year so far. Leaving pitchers in too long, relying on the bullpen too much or even his lineup choices have been the subject of scrutiny for much of the year. But it appears that even with all the bad, there's plenty of good that Valentine offers to the team.
Friday night's 7-5 win was a clear example of the very "baseball knowledge" that Valentine is said to boast in abundance but has been lacking this season. His impact on Buchholz's outing, combined with his use of the bullpen — five pitchers all recorded two outs or fewer — was reminiscent of Buck Showalter's approach with the Orioles just last weekend.
It looks like this old dog's tricks still work, to an extent at least, and that he's been able to adopt some new tricks along the way as well. Red Sox Nation can only hope that the developments continue, and that the team is able to capitalize on Valentine's knowledge more consistently.
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