One year ago, in the wake of Clay Buchholz’s play-me-or-trade-me remark on NESN, many of the callers to local sports-radio talk shows were calling for the Sox to ship the young right-hander out of town.
When I interviewed Buccholz in Pawtucket a few days later, he said his remarks were misunderstood. He said he was ready to play (and contribute) at the major league level, and that he just was trying to tell the Red Sox that he was ready to become a factor in the American League East.
But the Sox front office didn’t think he was ready. While he no longer had the deer-in-the-headlights look with runners on base, he was still somewhat timid on the mound at the big league level. He was still prone to nibbling and falling behind in the count. As it was back in 2007 when I first interviewed Buchholz, the Red Sox wanted him to get innings under his belt, repeat his delivery, refine his control and garner confidence.
Even during spring training earlier this year, there were LOTS of talk-show callers declaring that the Red Sox NEEDED to ship him to San Diego in exchange for 1B Adrian Gonzalez.
Well, I wonder what those folks are thinking right about now.
As the 2010 season approaches the one-third pole, Buchholz has EASILY been the club’s best pitcher. He’s been everything that his most ardent supporters—myself included—believed he would become…and he is well on his way to being a first-time all-star this summer.
It was interesting to hear Peter Gammons talk about the Nederland, TX, native during the NESN postgame report. He remarked that Buchholz is completely different in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to his starts. Whereas in the past he was a bundle of nerves, tonight he sat in front of his locker playing a guitar—trying to learn a few new chords.
He did his thing once again this evening. He won his seventh game, allowing four hits (three singles and a double that ticked off the glove of 3B Adrian Beltre) over seven shutout innings, leading his ballclub to a 1-0 win over Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals.
If you are looking for something to complain about, here it is: he walked four batters (he also struck out four).
Maybe Clay was playing The Beatles, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, which would have been an appropriate selection in consideration of the fact that his teammates mustered only five hits and one run to support his efforts in tonight’s game. THAT certainly can be defined as A LITTLE HELP.
But THAT was all he ended up needing…
Well, THAT and a couple of scoreless innings of relief from Daniel Bard (who hit 100 mph on the radar gun) and Jonathan Papelbon (who threw a couple of outstanding split-fingered pitches in his outing). Bard surrendered a leadoff double to Jason Kendall in the eighth inning, but after a sacrifice bunt he escaped unharmed with a strikeout and ground out (a hard-hit ball which, thankfully, was hit within the reach of 2B Dustin Pedroia).
The lone run of the game came in the second inning as Adrian Beltre led off with a single and J D Drew drove a double off the Green Monster in left-center field…Mike Lowell then knocked Beltre home with a ground ball to second base.
That was all of the scoring in the ballgame…and that suited Buchholz and his teammates just fine.
The Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning on a double by David Ortiz, an intentional walk to Victor Martinez and walk to Beltre…but, incredibly, Drew bounced THE FIRST PITCH to first base to end the inning (hey, JD, when the reigning Cy Young Award winner is struggling to find the plate, maybe you should make him throw a strike, huh?).
The win snapped the Red Sox two-game losing streak.
Buchholz is 3-0, with a 1.32 ERA, in his last three outings.
Terry Francona rested Kevin Youkilis and gave Mike Lowell a start at first base, in part due to Lowell’s career numbers against Greinke (4-for-7).
After watching RHP Josh Beckett throw a side-session yesterday, Francona said the team has decided to “slow down” the right-hander’s rehab. According to Tito, Beckett (who is on the 15-day disabled list after hurting his back on a slippery mound in Yankee Stadium on May 18) is unable to “complete his delivery consistently enough” to maintain the rehab schedule they had originally charted.
Tito said: “We don’t want it to lead to anything else.”
Kevin Millar was the guest of Don and Jerry in the NESN broadcast booth during the game. I honestly and truly enjoy listening to him talk…he is a hoot.
Hey, Kevin, drop me an e-mail…let’s do some shots some night before a game!