Despite missing nearly a month of action with esophagitis, the Red Sox pitcher continued his torrid pace on the mound in Saturday's 5-3 loss. Through 6 1/3 innings, Buchholz limited the Rays' lineup to three hits and four runs.
It took until the seventh inning for Buchholz to sputter. When he walked Luke Scott and plunked Jeff Keppinger to start the frame, the right-hander was promptly yanked after tossing his 87th pitch of the night.
The Rays wound up pouncing on reliever Matt Albers, scoring two runs on a bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly. Both runs were charged to Buchholz and raised his ERA to 5.54.
Still, considering the circumstances, Buchholz accomplished the task at hand. In his only minor league start for Pawtucket, he tossed a grand total of 40-plus pitches, the most he's thrown over the past month.
"I felt good, I think that start in Pawtucket helped," Buchholz told reporters in St. Petersburg. "It helped me get my feet wet. Just that one inning that I left a couple pitches up. Other than that, I felt pretty good. It is what it is. Still a work in progress."
Amid the limited practice, Buchholz came out firing against the Rays, striking out two batters in the first inning. He maintained that momentum over the course of the game, fanning a pair of hitters in the fourth and fifth frames.
By the end of the night, the 27-year-old had racked up eight strikeouts against Tampa Bay, one short of tying his season-high. Now, in three starts against the AL East foes, Buchholz has fanned 19 batters.
On Saturday night, Buchholz pitched in efficient fashion. Faced with a 90-pitch limit — per Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine's orders — the hurler made the most of every pitch, going 6 1/3 with 87 pitches, 58 of them for strikes.
"Great outing," Valentine told reporters in St. Petersburg. "You know, he pitched really well. Had a lot of swing and misses. Made pitches that were really well. Kept them off balance, looked good."
It marks Buchholz's second straight outing with 87 pitches. Before his stomach ailment, he expressed his intention to work faster in between throws, an alteration that has seemingly helped his cause.
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