The right-hander's breakout season has included many high points, none of which will compare to the experience of taking the mound under the bright lights of playoff baseball later this month.
Exactly when Buchholz pitches in the American League Division Series is not yet known, but after watching last year's postseason on television, such details mean little to the 25-year-old pitcher.
One year removed from a trying 2008 campaign that was marred by a crisis in confidence, Buchholz is right where he wants to be in 2009: on the cusp of being named to the Red Sox's playoff roster.
"That's definitely what I strived for in Spring Training and all through this year, is to get to this point and be a part of this team when they cut the rosters down," said Buchholz, who will take the hill in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Indians at Fenway Park.
"From the All-Star break until now, I feel like I've made some big strides for myself -- just to show this club that I'm ready to be here. There's going to be hiccups along the way, but it's all about how you take them and get better after you have an outing that's subpar."
His previous outing was certainly of the subpar variety, as Buchholz surrendered eights hits and seven runs -- including a career-high five home runs -- over five innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Blue Jays. He had not allowed more than three runs in six previous starts.
Following Sunday's tuneup, Buchholz's next assignment will be the most important of his young career. He recently sought out the advice of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, asking the playoff veterans how to best handle the high-voltage arena that is the postseason.
Unfortunately for Buchholz, his teammates weren't able to offer much insight.
"They just said it was sort of indescribable until you get out there and actually feel what's going on," Buchholz said. "Everybody wants to be under pressure situations and pitch well and come out of it on top. I feel like I'm at that point."
And when that time comes, will he be anxious?
"Definitely," Buchholz said. "I'm not so nervous right now, but I feel like the day we get over there and get into the atmosphere a little bit, it'll be a little nerve-wracking. I haven't been a part of the playoffs yet, but what better time than now? That's what I'm preparing for, and that's where I want to be."Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Clay Buchholz (7-4, 3.74 ERA)
Buchholz is 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in seven home starts this season. CLE: RHP Tomo Ohka (1-4, 5.45 ERA)
Ohka is 0-4 with a 6.51 ERA in five starts this season. Tidbits
Reliever Manny Delcarmen was unavailable for Saturday's contest after being involved in an automobile accident earlier in the day. Delcarmen, who hit a guardrail with his Hummer vehicle, felt pain in both his back and neck and received treatment during the game. He did not sustain any serious injuries. ... Third baseman Mike Lowell could return to the lineup on Sunday after being scratched on Saturday with a sore right thumb that he considered a minor injury. The 12-year veteran said he did not feel it was a big deal if he played on Sunday, and that he will be available for Game 1 of the ALDS. ... Right fielder J.D. Drew, who has not played since Tuesday because of left shoulder soreness, is expected to start on Sunday. ... Catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez has hit safely in his past 29 starts, batting .352 (38-for-108) with 20 RBIs over that span. The last AL player with a longer such streak was the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki, who had a 32-gamer from July 21-Aug. 24, 2001. ... Twenty-four different Red Sox players have hit a home run this season, passing the 1996 club (23 players) for the most in club history. Tickets
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John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.