There’s still more work to be done, but Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox can say that Wednesday’s start against the Seattle Mariners was a step in the right direction.
The 29-year-old pitched into the eighth inning as the Sox held on for a 5-4 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Buchholz got off to a good start with a 10-pitch 1-2-3 first inning, aided by some good defense by Brock Holt at first and Stephen Drew at short.
The second inning didn’t go as smoothly. Kyle Seager took a 0-1 changeup from Buchholz and deposited it into the right field stands to put the M’s on the board. Logan Morrison then singled and Mike Zunino launched a bomb of his own for the second Seattle homer in three batters to turn a one-run Sox lead into a one-run deficit.
Given back the lead in the top of the third, Buchholz got another 1-2-3 inning after Endy Chavez, James Jones, and Robinson Cano all popped up to keep the Sox ahead. Another good fourth inning saw the Mariners send only the minimum to the plate, as the M’s saw Kyle Seager get a hit, but was thrown out by Daniel Nava trying to stretch a single into a double. As he walked off the field to end the fourth, Buchholz had retired nine consecutive Mariners hitters.
The fifth inning saw Buchholz record his third straight 1-2-3 frame, as he shut down Dustin Ackley, Brad Miller, and Stefen Romero on just nine pitches.
Chavez snapped Buchholz’s 12-for-13 retired streak by singling to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Jones then lined a single that go through Drew’s glove at shortstop. After Cano flew out to right field, Seager hit a ball up the middle that Drew was positioned perfectly on to start a double play that got Buchholz out of the jam.
Buchholz came out for the bottom of the seventh sitting at just 59 pitches on the night. He punched out Morrison for his first strikeout of the game, then got Zunino swinging for the second out of the inning, while Ackely flew out to center to end the inning.
Buchholz returned to start the bottom of the eighth and gave up a home run to Miller on the first pitch of the inning to make it 5-4 Red Sox. Romero then lined a shot to left field that Jonny Gomes caught with a diving grab. That was all for Buchholz, as John Farrell came to grab his starter with one out in the eighth in favor of Andrew Miller, who stuck out back-to-back Seattle hitters to end the frame.
Buchholz’s line on the night was 7 1/3 innings pitched, allowing four runs on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. He threw just 76 pitches on the night, 55 of them for strikes.
All things considered, Wednesday’s start was a successful one for Buchholz as he tries to right the ship on what has been a disappointing season for the two-time All-Star. Buchholz should start again sometime next week in the Red Sox’ three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Fenway, depending on what Farrell decides to do with the pitching staff that now has six healthy starters.