Red Sox Notes: Why This June Was Best Of Clay Buchholz’s Career

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Clay Buchholz’s ERA in the month of April this season was 5.76. By any standard, that’s not very good.

In May, that mark fell to 3.31 — a definite improvement, but still not ace material.

It wasn’t until this month that the Boston Red Sox right-hander finally found his groove.

Buchholz posted a 2.21 ERA in the month of June, going 4-0 while the Red Sox won five of his six starts. His latest gem came Tuesday: an eight-inning, five-hit, one-run effort in a 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Buchholz struck out five and did not walk a batter (just the second time this season he’s gone without a free pass) en route to earning his sixth victory of the year.

“He had a couple of bumps early in the year, but he’s been very consistent,” manager John Farrell told reporters after the game, as aired on “Red Sox Extra Innings LIVE.” “A guy that you know he’s going to give you six, seven (innings) or possibly more on a night when he starts — he’s doing that for us. It allows you to be a little bit more aggressive with the bullpen the day before he starts, and that’s comforting when you’ve got that kind of guy who’s pitching as an upper-end-of-the-rotation guy.”

Statistically, it was not the best June that Buchholz has ever had (he posted a 1.84 ERA in five starts in 2010), but we’re going to go ahead and declare it so regardless.

Why? Here’s why:

Some additional notes from Monday’s action north of the border:

— The win was Buchholz’s latest successful effort at Rogers Centre, a building he’s owned over the years.

The righty has made multiple starts in 15 different major league ballparks (including Fenway Park), and his 2.30 career ERA at the home of the Jays is the second-lowest behind Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field (1.91).

“I mean, they’ve gotten me pretty good quite a few times throughout my career,” Buchholz told reporters. “(But) I like pitching here. I like the mound here. I’ve said it before, I’m just comfortable on it, and knowing what those guys do, they hit the ball hard and swing. So, when I feel I command heaters to both sides and pitch off of that, and then throw some changeups, curveballs in the mix, I get them swinging and hopefully stay off the fat part of the bat, and they hit it at people. That’s sort of what happened.”

Buchholz allowed just one extra-base in the ballgame: a two-out, RBI double to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in the sixth.

Donaldson, who also made a terrific sliding catch in foul territory, has been a massive pickup for Toronto. He’s hitting .301 with 18 home runs and 29 RBIs in his first season with the Jays and is tied for the major league lead with 58 runs scored.

“It’s tough to (pitch against) those guys,” Buchholz told reporters. “When Josh Donaldson’s hitting second in the lineup, that’s something that’s saying something. You just try to build off each pitch, each inning, and like I said, I feel good pitching here. I have my whole career.”

— Buchholz needed just 96 pitches to get through his eight innings of work, but Farrell decided to hand the ball to closer Koji Uehara in the ninth. The skipper said he did not consider sending his starter back out.

“Not when we’re getting to the fourth time through the lineup,” Farrell told reporters. “Koji has been on a very (good) run himself, so Clay did his job through eight innings (Monday night).”

Uehara retired the Blue Jays’ top three hitters in order to close out the win. No Red Sox pitcher has pitched a complete game this season.

— Farrell was asked to comment on a column by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that pondered whether it would be in the Red Sox’s best interest to trade Buchholz.

“He’s ours,” Farrell responded. “I can’t comment on trade speculation. He’s a guy that’s been born and raised in this organization, and he’s performing as a very strong starting pitcher right now. Those are the types of guys you continue to build around.”

— Pablo Sandoval swung at a pitch way, way, way out of the strike zone during the second inning — and somehow made contact.

How high was the R.A. Dickey offering Sandoval decided to take a hack at? Take a look for yourself:

The swing resulted in a groundout to short for the Red Sox third baseman, who went 0-for-4 in the win.

Thumbnail photo via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images

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