On Tuesday night against a tough Rangers lineup, Clay Buchholz had one glaring issue in his stat line for the night. The right-hander struck out just one hitter in his seven innings, and while there would have been concern over this just a few months ago, his pitching as of late has allowed us to react calmly this time around.
For starters, the seven innings: Buchholz threw seven frames and allowed just one run, scattering four hits and three walks. He threw 105 pitches, just 53 percent for strikes, but induced 12 ground outs to six fly outs to effectively get away with a night where he didn't keep the ball in the strike zone consistently. Just think: back in early May, we would have considered this a major victory for Buchholz. In fact, we did, when it happened against the Indians: Buchholz threw 6-1/3 against them on May 11, striking out none and walking three, but escaped with just three earned runs (of which the bullpen was at least partially responsible for) thanks to 13 grounders. It was a step forward for Buchholz, even if it wasn't a perfect outing, and the fact he failed to give up a homer -- he had allowed 10 to that point, including three in his previous outing -- was also a good sign.
In the 10 starts following that somewhat depressing yet hopeful outing against Cleveland, Buchholz has been fantastic. In those 10 outings, a run capped by Tuesday night's effort, Buchholz owns a 3.10 ERA, earned over 68-2/3 innings, with 6.9 strikeouts per nine against 2.2 walks per, good for a 3.1 K/BB that would easily be Buchholz's best over a full season. He's shown the ability to induce ground outs when his strikeouts aren't coming, the ability to miss bats often -- three of these 10 starts had at least seven punch outs, with Buchholz topping out at nine in seven frames against the Marlins back on June 12 -- and the occasional combination of the two. He's been more efficient, more effective, and more accurate than he's ever been during this stretch.
That's great news for both Buchholz and the Red Sox, who, have seen Josh Beckett and Jon Lester lose effectiveness while Buchholz has regained his own. There's something great about not feeling panicky following a Buchholz effort where strikeouts didn't happen, and we have the work he put together in the 10 starts before Tuesday night's to thank for that.