Buchholz regaining his footing after rough stretch
Red Sox righty allows two runs in seven frames, strikes out nine in no-decision
BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz is the lone survivor from Boston's Opening Day rotation. Gone are John Lackey, Jon Lester and Jake Peavy.
The 30-year-old righty is now the staff's veteran and in his last two outings, he has started to pitch like it. And even if the Red Sox are well out of playoff contention, Buchholz said he's got plenty of time left this season to better himself and his team.
On Friday, Buchholz allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings in a 5-3 loss to the Astros, which went 10 innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
He gave up three runs on six hits over eight frames last Saturday against the Angels. He fanned eight and walked a pair in that game.
"Yeah, I felt like they were probably the best outings I've had of the season ... I can take a lot of positives out of it," Buchholz said. "But the main goal and focus is to win. That didn't happen."
One of the only big mistakes Buchholz made Friday came in the seventh, when he threw an inside cutter to Robbie Grossman, who yanked a solo homer to right to tie the game at 2-2. Buchholz said he didn't miss the spot.
"Looked like he was either sitting on it, or it was the location he was looking for," Buchholz said. "So he barreled it up."
Prior to his last two starts, Buchholz had four consecutive brutal outings from July 18 to Aug. 3 -- 22 earned runs over 22 innings with 13 walks and 13 strikeouts. That stretch was more like his entire 2014 than the last two.
Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 1.025 WHIP over 16 starts in 2013. This season, he's sporting a 5.79 ERA and the Red Sox are 7-13 in games he starts. He missed about a month with a hyperextended knee and looked strong following his return, walking just one batter over four starts through the first part of July. One of those outings was his best of the season --- a three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout of the Astros on July 13.
But then he hit that four-outing rough patch and has bounced back in the last week. Buchholz said he had been relying too much on his secondary pitches because he didn't have his best fastball command. In his last two outings he's been effective with his off-speed stuff, but hasn't used it as a crutch.
"That's sorta how I pitched last year. Just haven't been able to do it a whole lot this year," Buchholz said. "Last two times, have been reminiscent of the 12-13 starts I made at the beginning of last season. Then all the other pitches fall into place."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com.