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For Clay Buchholz, more brilliance

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 10, 2012 11:40 PM

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CLEVELAND — Clay Buchholz had a 9.09 earned run average through six starts, giving up 10 home runs over only 32 2/3 innings.

Every mistake was hit hard and Buchholz was walking to the mound expecting something bad to happen.

“You can’t be confident when you’re getting your brains beat in every night,” he said.

Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington kept Buchholz in the rotation, defying calls that he belonged in the bullpen or back in Triple A. They remembered that Buchholz had missed almost four months in 2011 with a back injury and needed time to regain his footing.

Their patience paid off. Buchholz was brilliant against the Indians on Friday night, throwing a complete game two-hitter in a 3-2 victory.

Buchholz gave up one earned run and struck out six without a walk. He retired the last 12 Cleveland hitters he faced and 18 of the final 19. He hand-delivered a victory to a team desperate for one.

That’s probably as good as he’s been all year. He’s really turned it around and pitched his butt off,” said Cody Ross, whose two-run home run in the sixth inning provided the winning runs.

Buchholz regained command of his changeup in May and built himself back up. He is 6-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 10 starts since June 1. At 10-3 and with a 4.24 ERA, Buchholz is clearly the best starter on the staff this season. Granted, that's not much of an accomplishment.

Buchholz also is one of the cornerstone players the team can rebuild around. Though he still needs to prove he can throw 200 innings in a season, Buchholz has the kind of personality and competitive nature the Red Sox need more of.

Watch him field his position, for instance. Buchholz goes hard after the ball and sprints to cover first base when Adrian Gonzalez makes a play in the hole. He also attacks hitters instead of nibbling and almost never bickers with umpires.

Also:

• Daisuke Matsuzaka had a rough first inning for Pawtucket, allowing a single and then a home run. But he settled down and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing the two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out three.

With Felix Doubront beaten up and Franklin Morales probably facing limitations at some point, Matsuzaka is going to pitch for the Red Sox again. So you have that to look forward to.

• Ross has 18 homers and is hitting .278 with an .883 OPS. He wants to stay with the team and he seems to fit in very well. Ross would be a nice player to have around until Bryce Brentz is ready or Ryan Kalish fulfills his promise.

• Scott Podsednik last played in a baseball game on July 29. Friday night he was 1 for 3 and made a couple of nice catches in left. Asked before the game when was the last time he took batting practice, Podsednik smiled and said he was about to.

• Not sure what this means. But the Sox are 20-14 against the AL Central. So if they could play all road games against teams in the Central and face lefties, you have to like their chances.

• As reporters left Valentine's office and went into the clubhouse after the game, Adrian Gonzalez was sipping from a bottle of beer while standing in the hallway. "Aaaaaah," he said after taking a sip.

Gonzalez laughed. Inside the clubhouse, some of the other players had piled up cans of Bud Light on one of the tables to mock the story that John Lackey was drinking on Thursday.

Kind of funny, although some moral arbiters in the media will surely summon up plenty of faux outrage about it. I'm more outraged that guys who make millions drink Bud Light.

Thanks to everybody for reading today. Catch you tomorrow.

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