Righty's string of early issues continues in blowout
By Deesha Thosar
BOSTON -- The Red Sox's worst home loss in over 15 years all came to an end when a position player walked to the hill to pitch the ninth. But it all began when right-hander Clay Buchholz continued to struggle in the early innings of a 21-2 loss to the Angels on Saturday.
Buchholz (3-9, 5.91 ERA) gave up a two-run homer to Albert Pujols moments after Mike Trout hit a ground-rule double in the first inning. In 13 starts, the righty has given up 16 runs in the first frame.
After Buchholz's eighth loss in his past 12 outings, the debate over whether he'll keep his rotation spot remains a big question mark.
"You know, at this point, not ready to commit to that," Boston manager John Farrell said on whether Buchholz will make his next start. "We'll get through this series and evaluate where we are. We've got next Thursday as an off-day to work around the rotation, so we'll re-evaluate it as we get through [Sunday]."
Farrell and the coaching staff tried working out the kinks with Buchholz before his latest start. Farrell said they tried changing his pregame warmup and simulating the first inning. But the overlying issue showed up again.
"You know, I thought he was getting through the first inning trying to stay away from Pujols," Farrell said. "Trying to work a cutter off the plate to get to [Daniel] Nava with the base open. Cutter, 3-2, pitch, stays in the middle of the plate and as we've seen with a number of his starts, the first inning has been kind of a nemesis."
Buchholz exited after 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and six runs (three earned). Buchholz said he wasn't happy about coming out after just 66 pitches, one of his quicker hooks of the season.
In the three games Buchholz started since rejoining the rotation, the Red Sox have trailed after all 27 innings. When asked about his his mindset, Buchholz was straight to the point.
"I haven't talked to our psychiatrist yet, but my confidence is all right. I'm good," he said.
The righty did have a chance to talk with his skipper and understands the pressure that comes along with making a good outing.
"You've got to earn that right, I understand that," Buchholz said. "It's not my first go around. I've had some ups and downs in my career too, so that's the game. Have to earn the right to stay out there in those situations and I guess I haven't earned it."
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.