Buchholz recovers from shaky opening

Buchholz recovers from shaky opening

BOSTON -- It isn't a good sign when the crowd gives a sarcastic cheer for the hometown pitcher on the third pitch of the game, which was a ball to Jose Abreu. This, after Clay Buchholz had given up a towering solo homer on the first pitch to Tim Anderson and a double that was hammered off the Green Monster by Adam Eaton on the second.

But when you consider the way it started, Buchholz's return to the rotation was actually fairly encouraging, even if the result was a 3-1 loss to Chris Sale and the White Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway.

After that boom-boom opening from Anderson and Eaton, Buchholz would allow just two more hits for the rest of his outing.

Limited to five innings and 78 pitches because he is still getting stretched back out, the righty kept the Red Sox in this one, giving up four hits and three runs while striking out five.

"Overall, I felt really good," said Buchholz. "I was able to throw changeups in some spots that I hadn't been able to throw changeups in. My curveball was good. For the most part, the first pitch of the game is the one pitch that I missed location a little bit on. They've got a good lineup. It's a tough lineup to pitch to, especially when you're going against Chris Sale. He's one of the best in the game, so you know runs are going to be a minimum when he goes out there."

It's no secret that Buchholz is at a crossroads with the Red Sox. Already dropped from the rotation once, and his contract -- which does include a club option -- expiring at season's end, he no longer has much wiggle room.

"Well, they smacked him in the face the first two pitches he threw," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Solo home run and a double, but he did settle in. He got through the five, we were thinking about an 80-pitch count neighborhood for him. He used his secondary pitches well."

At the very least, Buchholz earned himself another start. For a while, he is likely to be evaluated on a start-to-start basis.

"First pitch of the game, somebody jumps ship on you first pitch of the game, there's not a whole lot you can do about it," said Buchholz. "I'm worried about throwing a first-pitch strike right there. He put a good swing on the pitch, pretty good pitch away. Looking back now, I'd start in against Eaton, throw a cutter or something to him, but that was a pretty good pitch, and you've got to tip your cap to both of those. I found a way to minimize that inning."

Instead of saying, "Here we go again," Buchholz (3-7, 5.83 ERA) was able to recover.

"I wasn't thinking about anything," Buchholz said. "I was trying to make pitches. The results are going to be what they're going to be. I'm out there to pitch and help this team win games."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.