ARLINGTON, Texas: Manager John Farrell said Clay Buchholz got smacked in the face by the Chicago White Sox in his previous start on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
In that vein, it might be fair to say Buchholz was punched in the face by the Texas Rangers on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Buchholz allowed the first six Rangers batters to reach base in a three-run first inning that stuck the Red Sox in yet another hole and put them on the fast track to a 6-2 loss.
“I watched a lot of video and there are pitches I threw in 2013 that are getting hit a long way right now and I’m throwing the same stuff,” Buchholz told the Herald after the game. “It’s just the time and place of when it happens, confidence levels and if you’re not confident, you’re probably not going to do very well. My confidence is coming back.”
Making his second start since being moved back into the rotation after a brief stint in the bullpen, Buchholz lasted 51/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) in 95-degree weather. While this is no easy place to pitch — MLB pitchers entered the weekend with a 4.79 ERA at Globe Life Park this season — the Red Sox starters offered an even worse performance over their three-game series loss.
Between David Price, Steven Wright and Buchholz, Sox starters combined to pitch only 121/3 innings this series while allowing 19 runs, 13 of them earned.
“That’s not the script you’re trying to draw up,” Farrell said.
By losing 2-of-3 to the Rangers, the Red Sox (41-34) have fallen back to four games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Sox haven’t been as many as four games back since April 12, just seven games into the season.
This was Buchholz’ 12th start of the season and it went like most of the others.
The first four Rangers hitters singled off Buchholz to start the game. Buchholz then walked Prince Fielder and allowed another single to Rougned Odor. A double play off the bat of Elvis Andrus saved Buchholz from what could have been even worse than a three-run first inning.
Buchholz worked in and out of trouble to keep the Rangers off the board again until the sixth inning.
To start the sixth, Xander Bogaerts offered Buchholz no help by making a high throw that took Hanley Ramirez off the first base bag and allowed Adrian Beltre to reach on an error, Bogaerts’ seventh of the season. Fielder took advantage of the mistake and belted a two-run homer to right field.
Buchholz was finished after recording just one out in the inning and pushed his ERA to 5.90, begging the question of whether or not he will stay in the rotation or return to the bullpen.
It’s not like Buchholz’ struggles are new to the Red Sox. Since the start of the 2014 season, he has a 4.80 ERA, worse than all but seven other major league pitchers (minimum 50 starts). But the Sox have limited options. Joe Kelly is injured, Brian Johnson has missed more than a month because of anxiety, Roenis Elias was roughed up in his only start, and Henry Owens walked five more batters in four innings yesterday at Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Sox might have no other choice but to let Buchholz try to work through his struggles and hope that he’s still getting adjusted to pitching with his old delivery after trying something new in spring training, a change he said he made to help avoid lingering arm soreness from his elbow injury last summer.
Asked if the injury gave him a slow start to the season, Buchholz said, “Maybe a little bit. There were a couple things I was trying in spring training that I felt really good with prior to spring training, but once you start facing hitters, I had an awkward feeling. I was trying to do a different windup and I didn’t feel quite right. I don’t think injury had anything to do with it. I think I was trying something new and I was trying to stick with it for a large amount of time and ended up not feeling right for me.