Buchholz hopes for Sunday best in Game 2

BOSTON -- Despite putting together a first half that had him pegged as the early favorite for the AL Cy Young, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz would throw it away for the chance to do what every other member of the Red Sox starting rotation did during the regular season.

The 9-0 record in 12 starts? The league-best 1.71 ERA? Toss it to the side. All Buchholz wanted was the chance to keep on pitching.

“The frustrating part was I couldn’t go out and pitch and try to keep it going,” Buchholz said. “It was definitely a fun first half for me, which I would have given up a lot of up to pitch throughout the season.”

“But now I feel good and I’m ready to go [Sunday].”

Buchholz will take the mound opposite the now-favorite to win the AL Cy Young, Max Scherzer, and the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night. It’s a big step for the 29-year-old who, for a time during the regular season, felt he would never be able to recover from a shoulder injury.

“It was a little disturbing, just for the reason that I wasn’t feeling any better after the rest that I took a little bit,” Buchholz said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be, so to speak, like I was at the beginning of the season.”

Since returning from a three-month stint on the disabled list Sept. 10, Buchholz has made five starts, going 3-1 and throwing more than 100 pitches in the most recent three. Red Sox manager John Farrell has been happy with his progression, a big reason why he picked Buchholz to start Game 2 over ALDS Game 2 starter John Lackey.

“I think he’s come away with greater confidence on the physical side of things,” Farrell said. “There’s no restrictions on how we plan for [Sunday] or plan for a given start. We feel like he’s in good shape physically.”

For Buchholz, making his first career start as high as Game 2 in the postseason, being healthy enough to pitch now after missing so much of the season is what matters the most to him.

“This is definitely an important part of the season,” Buchholz said. “Obviously you want to be out there fighting, battling with your guys throughout the whole course of the season leading up to now.”

“This is what baseball is all about. This is where you want to be. And it’s been fun so far.”