When asked to put a number on it, Buchholz said he worked at about 80 percent capacity. He was hardly dazzling, but allowed only one run (unearned) on three hits and three walks as he pitched in and out of crisis situations in the second, third and fourth innings before leaving for a pinch-hitter with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth.
The Cards stranded five baserunners and scored a run on a Carlos Beltran single during those three innings. Buchholz said he wasn't trying to fool the St. Louis hitters.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "But never at one time did I try to overpower anybody. I just got the ball and threw the pitch. It was hard enough in itself to do for me because I'm usually at max effort trying to throw as hard as I can. It was a good experience for me to have to go through something like that. At the same time, I don't want to do it again. I want to be completely healthy next time."
Buchholz said he began to feel tenderness in his shoulder during his last start in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers. In that one, he worked five innings, allowing two runs on four hits as the Red Sox won, 5-2, and wrapped up the pennant and a berth in the World Series.
Buchholz was originally pegged to pitch Game 3 of the World Series, but to give him an extra day, Boston manager John Farrell moved up Jake Peavy, who made the start against the Cardinals on Saturday night. If Farrell remains true to his current rotation, it'll be Jon Lester, John Lackey and Peavy in the final three games if the Series goes the duration.
Buchholz might be part of an "all hands on deck" situation in Game 7, if at all.
He thanked the Red Sox medical staff for working overtime to get him ready for Sunday night's start.
"Everything goes to the medical staff and trainers," Buchholz said. "It's been a constant workload for them the last five or six days. My lat has been sore. All the stiffness and soreness was running a couple of other places. All the tugging and pulling they had to do on it made other things sore. It's been tough mentally going through that, but being able to go out there and start this game tonight, keep the team in it and help us win, that's big."
Buchholz claimed he felt so good that he would have been out there to pitch the bottom of the fifth if the offensive situation didn't warrant it. He had only thrown 66 pitches at the time.
"I wasn't feeling any stiffness or soreness before I came out," he said. "In fact, right now I feel fine. I was definitely going out in the fifth if [catcher] David Ross hit into a double play right there."
Ross, in fact, struck out and Farrell went to the bench for pinch-hitter Mike Carp, who grounded out to end the inning.
Buchholz had evidently given his club everything he had. A hundred percent effort of 80 percent capacity is better than nothing.
"He probably wasn't up to par with his command and his [velocity] was down, but his ball was really moving," Ross said. "That was big for us, having him go out there and give us some innings. He was a little under the weather and not feeling great, but Buch gave us a pretty gritty performance."