Buchholz dominated Tampa Bay in his eight-inning win.
It was an exciting day in baseball, as the Boston Red Sox’s Clay Buchholz narrowly missed throwing the first no-hitter of the 2013 major league season.
The Red Sox dispatched Alex Cobb and the Tampa Bay Rays 5-0 at Fenway Park in Boston, while the 28-year-old right-handed Buchholz nearly threw the second no-hitter of his seven-year major league career.
He didn’t allow a hit through the first seven innings, but the drama ended when Tampa Bay left fielder Kelly Johnson led off the top of the eighth inning with a broken-bat single to right field, as described in a tweet by The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo:
Seven innings of no no for buchholz. K Johnson breaks it up to start eighth with bloop to rf— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) April 14, 2013
Buchholz also gave up a double to Desmond Jennings later in the eight innings but was able escape without allowing a run.
Having racked up 109 pitches, he was removed from the game and left-hander Andrew Miller pitched the ninth inning to close out the win.
Buchholz struck out a career-high 11 but struggled a bit with his control, walking four batters and running up a number of high counts.
The Red Sox scored four of their five runs in the third inning, highlighted by a two-run double by first baseman Mike Napoli.
Buchholz is no stranger to no-hitters. He blanked the Baltimore Orioles in just his second major league start on September 1, 2007. He also struggled with control in that game, issuing three walks in addition to nine strikeouts.
A no-hitter would have been the 19th in Red Sox history, and Buchholz would have joined Dutch Leonard and Cy Young as the only pitchers to do it twice in a Boston uniform, according to a tweet by MassLive.com’s Evan Drellich:
18 official no-hitters in Red Sox history. Clay Buchholz would join Cy Young and Dutch Leonard as only Sox Ps to do it twice in Sox uni.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) April 14, 2013
As the game progressed and Buchholz’s pitch count rose, some, like ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, speculated if Boston manager John Farrell would let him finish the game:
Tough decisions ahead for Farrell: Clay Buchholz throwing up many, many, many zeroes, and has 99 p. through 7 IP. scores.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?g…— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 14, 2013
The win moves Buchholz to 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA on the season. It’s an encouraging sign that he may be back to his form from 2010, when he was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts, which was his best as a professional player.
Although the no-hitter was broken up, it was an extremely entertaining game. The Red Sox are now 7-4 and in first place in the American League East. They can use a few more pitching performances like Buchholz’s display of domination to help keep them contending for the rest of 2013.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference