MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Pitcher Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 12, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Clay Buchholz did not have a very good night on Tuesday.
After surrendering just five runs in his last four starts--each lasting at least seven innings--Buchholz coughed up five to the Miami Marlins in just six, with the results looking much more like the Buchholz who carried a 9.00 ERA until the second week of May. Given that said Clay Buchholz was seemingly incapable of pitching well, it's scary to see a box score that perhaps heralds his return.
The good news is that, looking beyond the box score, this was not the Clay Buchholz who so frustrated Sox fans for the first two months of the season.
In his first seven starts, Clay Buchholz was a complete wreck--a man without even one pitch, let alone three. His fastball was miserable, completely without location and averaging under 92 MPH, often not touching 94 once. He would often have to go to his curveball and changeup for strikes, and the opposition wasn't missing them.
Tuesday, however, Buchholz had much better command of his fastball, placing 78% of them in the strike zone. He had some good zip on it, too, averaging 92.86 MPH with a max speed of 94.7 MPH. He used the changeup and curveball as a change of pace rather than the main course, allowing him to get a few swinging strikes when he needed them, with two of his three strikeouts coming on two of his nine curveballs, and the other coming on a changeup.
One change did result in the double off the base of the wall that was misplayed by Ryan Kalish, but that just brings us to the other point: bad luck. Obviously that sort of thing is tossed around a lot to excuse pitchers' worst outings, but it can't be said Clay didn't run into some misfortune. Logan Morrison was the one guy who really killed Buchholz, obviously, driving in all five runs with two doubles and a homer. The problem was that three of the runs he drove in were on base via a combination of ground balls and broken bats. The home run was obviously his fault, as were the baserunners he allowed on in the third with walks and hit batters, but it was just bad timing for the most part that Logan Morrison ended up with so many opportunities. On a luckier day, Clay could have gotten away with two runs.
We Sox fans probably won't feel all that comfortable with Buchholz until he has another good start under his belt. But for now there's not really reason to start panicking.