Clay Buchholz on Miguel Cabrera: ‘He always finds a way to … make you feel really uncomfortable in big situations’

October 13, 2013 - 7:32 am
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Clay Buchholz will take to the Fenway Park mound in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series Sunday night, and he'€™ll do it with a 1.74 ERA and 1.03 WHIP to his name. There was a time this season, however, when Buchholz doubted he'€™d be able to do it at all in October. The right-hander missed three months with an inflamed bursa sac near his shoulder '€” the first arm injury he ever had to deal with. '€œThere was definitely a point where '€” it was right before I went and saw Dr. [James] Andrews [mid-July] '€” that obviously didn'€™t feel right,'€ Buchholz said Saturday. '€œTo have felt that going through this whole scenario, it was a little disturbing.'€ Eventually, the discomfort did go away, and Buchholz returned for four September starts as a prelude to his six-inning, three-run effort against the Rays in the ALDS last week. He is set to go again Sunday against a challenge completely different from any he faced during his three-month layoff: Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers third baseman had another monster season '€” a .348/.442/.636 slash line, 44 homers, 137 RBIs '€” but has not been 100 percent in recent weeks. He batted .250 (5-for-20) with one walk and three RBIs in the ALDS. Nonetheless, Buchholz is particularly wary of Cabrera in the three-hole. '€œHe always finds a way to extend an at-bat and make you feel really uncomfortable in big situations while you'€™re throwing to him,'€ Buchholz said. '€œHe'€™s that guy. I think you would get the same answer from any starting pitcher in the league. '€œHe'€™s a guy that everybody seems to watch all the time, taking BP out in the field. He'€™s always got a smile on his face and having fun. That'€™s the time you need to be afraid of what he'€™s going to do when he gets up at-bat. When he'€™s loose, he feels good.'€ Sox manager John Farrell noted that much of Buchholz'€™ September was building stamina and pitch count, jumping from 74 pitches in his first start to 113 in his last. His Game 3 start vs. Tampa Bay saw him throw 104. '€œHe comes away with greater confidence on the physical side of things [after throwing a lot of pitches],'€ Farrell said. '€œHe'€™s always been a confident guy in executing a certain pitch or selecting a certain pitch inside of an at-bat, and we'€™ll need more against this lineup here.'€ The best case scenario for the Sox is, of course, that Buchholz returns to his April or May form, when he limited opposing batters to a .194 average and .274 slugging mark. Max Scherzer, Buchholz'€™ counterpart Sunday, took note of the early season success. '€œHe was pitching absolutely lights-out,'€ Scherzer said. '€œHe'€™s able to do a lot of things with all of his pitches. That'€™s what makes him so effective. '€¦ I think he'€™s back, and he'€™s going to bring his A stuff, so I'€™m going to have to match him.'€
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