Commentary

Even Clay Buchholz at a loss

Red Sox's most consistent starter can't set slumping club straight

Updated: August 23, 2012, 12:41 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz has been the most consistent pitcher for the Boston Red Sox this season. When the team needed his fastball to be fast, his curveball to curve and his change-up to change, the right-hander has delivered more often than not in 2012.

It's no secret things are not going well for the Red Sox right now, and with only 38 games remaining in the regular season, this club continues to struggle. Uncharacteristically on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, Buchholz did too.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesClay Buchholz, who allowed eight earned runs over his previous six starts, gave up seven to the Angels.

In his 100th career appearance in the majors, he allowed seven runs on 12 hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Red Sox, 7-3. The 12 hits matched a career high, last allowed on April 26, 2011 at Baltimore.

Prior to his 22nd start of the season on Wednesday, Buchholz had allowed only eight earned runs in his previous six starts. He dropped to 11-4 this season, suffering only his third loss in 19 starts following a Red Sox defeat since the start of the 2011 season.

Buchholz said he doesn't feel any added pressure being the club's most successful pitcher, especially with the Sox having lost 10 of their last 14 games.

"I've been going out there with the sole purpose of trying to get deep into games and trying to get quick outs here and there and get the team back in the dugout to get to the plate," Buchholz said. "You could throw any other four guys that we have out there and they can do the same thing I've been doing. It just happens to be me the last few weeks.

"It's tough," he said. "Nobody comes here every day wanting to lose or thinking we're going to lose. It's just been happening that way. We have a team that everybody knows can be really, really good with the players that run out there every day, but it makes it a little bit tougher knowing that also. We've got to find a way these last couple of weeks."

It's also the first time the Angels have beaten Buchholz in his last five starts against them.

"I made a couple of bad pitches and they hit them," Buchholz said. "I'm really not disappointed in anything.

"I left balls up in the zone and you can't throw pitches consistently up there and expect to get away with it against a team like that. On the other side, I felt like I made a lot of good pitches that they got their bat to and found a hole. I felt really good, just too many pitches up and they made me pay for it."

Buchholz admitted on Tuesday that he had a strong relationship with Bob McClure, who was fired as pitching coach on Monday. Since arriving in Boston in 2007, Buchholz has had four pitching coaches: John Farrell, Curt Young, McClure and Randy Niemann.

Buchholz claims all the different voices have not been a distraction.

"Not really," he said. "All of them have been good to me. I've had a pretty good relationship with all the pitching coaches we've had. I think they're there more for guidance, if they see you doing something wrong over an extended period of time, they're the guys that sort of give you a little bit of notice and direction on what you need to do.

"Consistency is the key, especially with pitching because you've got to be able to repeat deliveries and arm slots, and that comes with feel and confidence. They've all been good and they've all been around baseball for a long time, so I don't see it being a problem for anybody."

But there is a problem for the Red Sox. They continue to lose ground in the wild card race and they're running out of time. After Wednesday's loss, the clubhouse was nearly empty as players were quick to get out of Dodge, probably because the postgame theme has become a broken record.

"We've got to find a way," Buchholz said.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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