TORONTO -- Clay Buchholz had two days to process news that he didn't like. But by the time the bottom of the 10th inning rolled around on Sunday afternoon, Buchholz knew it was no time to feel sorry for himself over being taken out of the rotation.It was time to
TORONTO -- Clay Buchholz had two days to process news that he didn't like. But by the time the bottom of the 10th inning rolled around on Sunday afternoon, Buchholz knew it was no time to feel sorry for himself over being taken out of the rotation.
It was time to go back to work, even if it is in a role he hopes is only temporary. Buchholz went one scoreless inning in relief, allowing one single and was the winning pitcher as the Red Sox pulled out a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays in 11 innings.
In his old role -- the one he has worked in for basically his entire career -- a win could never be gained by throwing 19 pitches.
So at least on Sunday, Buchholz was able to earn some quick gratification.
"It definitely felt a little different. That's the position I'm in," said Buchholz. "I've got to help the team any way I can. It's just like when you're starting, but you don't know when you're pitching out of the bullpen, so it's a little different. That's part of it, part of the adjustment I'm going to have to make for the time being. I'm glad I could contribute today."
Manager John Farrell made a point of going to Buchholz's locker shortly after the game.
"Way to go," Farrell said to his pitcher.
Buchholz appreciated Farrell taking the time to deliver the short message.
"He understands how I've felt about the whole situation," Buchholz said. "I don't think anybody would be human as a baseball player if they didn't take it as a slap in the face or 'You've got to get better,' and that's how I took it. He understood that."
Buchholz had pitched in relief only twice before in his career -- once in his rookie year of 2007 when he was on an innings limit and again the next year when he was mired in one of the worst slumps of his career.
There's a chance Buchholz can help the Red Sox as a reliever, even if the role is mostly unfamiliar to him. As a starter this season, he has been good in spurts, but typically haunted by one bad inning.
In relief, that one bad inning might not come nearly as often.
Sunday was a good first step.
"Yeah, he handled it very well," said Farrell. "First time I think he's pitched out of the 'pen in a number of years. He had a good cutter, a good fastball, sank the ball. With the exception of the curveball to [Darwin] Barney that stays in the middle of the plate, he was sharp. For all that he's been through, he's got his back against the wall in a situation like that, and he executed very well."
With the Red Sox trying to avoid being swept by the Blue Jays, Buchholz was put into a crucial spot. Not only that, but if Buchholz was on the wrong end of a walk-off loss, it might have been hard for him to generate positive momentum in the new role.
"He needed that. We needed that," said ace David Price. "It could've spiraled in the opposite direction. He goes out there, this is a place he's thrown the baseball extremely well and you know if he didn't have good things happen for him out there and they walk it off on him, there's no telling where his confidence would go. He's a very confident guy even while he's struggling right now. That was very good to see for him and it's a good sign."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.