Clay Buchholz

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz better, but still not good enough; Red Sox lose to Orioles

Rob Bradford
April 18, 2015 - 3:30 pm

It was hard to tell how much of the perception regarding Clay Buchholz was altered Saturday. The result of the starter's outing was clearly better than what transpired the last time out, yet much of the six innings in which Buchholz was thick with uneasiness. The end result of Buchholz' third start of the season was a Red Sox 4-1 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. The righty took the loss, giving up 11 hits and a walk while striking out seven and stranding nine baserunners. Only one of the hits off Buchholz was of the extra-base variety, and that one -- coming off the bat of Jimmy Parades -- probably should have been caught by left fielder Hanley Ramirezin the left field corner. (Click here for video of the play.) Also, seven of the outs Buchholz got on balls put in play were on ground outs. "Like I said after that outing, the last thing you want to do is just let them hit the ball around," the pitcher said. "It definitely didn't feel like I gave up 11 hits. It felt like I won a couple of those battles, and balls just ended up falling in. It didn't affect me near like it did the other day in New York. I was able to get out of a couple of tight spots. The name of the game is keep your team in the game. They had a couple of chances that they did a good job of pitching out of, too, so you've got to tip your cap sometimes." Despite Buchholz' ability to escape major damage, his slow pace and reluctance to use his fastball in key spots later in the game (after using it liberally out of the gate) didn't paint the exact picture the Red Sox were hoping for coming off 3 1/3-inning, 10-run start in New York. At the end of the day, Buchholz did keep pace with Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who cruised through much of his 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed one run on six hits. Buchholz came away feeling especially good about his cutter, which he broke out multiple times during the uncomfortable fourth and fifth innings. "Best cutter I've had all year," he said. "I tweaked a couple of things here and there with it over the last two or three days. It had a lot more depth today. I was able to get those swings to the lefty and the balls away from the righty. It was moving regardless of how high or low it was. That's really the cutter that I had in 2010 and 2013." SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Tillman. The Orioles hurler kept the Red Sox off-balance for much of his outing. In 17 starts against the Red Sox, the righty has now allowed more than three runs just twice. WHAT WENT WRONG - The Red Sox first real chance against Tillman came in the third inning with runners on first and third and two outs. But Dustin Pedroia couldn't quite beat out his slow roller down the third base line, making the second baseman 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position for the season. The Red Sox had secured the runners on base thanks to a Xander Bogaerts' walk (giving the Sox most free passes in the majors, 49) and another Brock Holt single. - The next solid chance the Red Sox had came in the fourth, with David Ortiz standing at third with two outs (thanks to his second single of the game). But Mike Napoli continued to struggle, flying out to second. Napoli -- who is 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position -- did manage a single in his next at-bat. - Ramirez continued to play left field (to be kind) cautiously. In this case it led to the Orioles' first run, with Ramirez allowing Parades' fly ball bounce in the corner. With two runners on with nobody out, Baltimore managed to plate a pair thanks to a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop and single. Ramirez would make another subpar play in the fifth, dropping a fly ball at the base of the left field wall (although he insisted after the game it hit the wall prior to his glove). "It hit the wall and then hit my glove so make sure you see the replay person and ask him about it," the outfielder said of the second chance. "There was nothing I could do on that play ... I jumped and hit it the wall. I went back inside and saw the replay. You just have to come back tomorrow and win the game. We'€™re playing pretty good baseball right now. There'€™s nothing we have to be concerned about. Everybody is just happy we'€™re here, we'€™re going to keep working and give 100 percent every game. There'€™s nothing we have to be concerned about right now." - Pedroia stranded five runners, striking out twice. Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Daniel Nava also went hitless. (Nava was a last-minute replacement for Shane Victorino, who injured his ribs going for a ball in the stands Friday night.) - Robbie Ross Jr. allowed Chris Davis his second home run of the season, with the Orioles first baseman launching a two-run blast over the left field wall to give the visitors some breathing room heading into the bottom of the ninth. WHAT WENT RIGHT - Buchholz got out of what could have been a disastrous situation, facing the bases loaded and just one out in what had already become a two-run fourth inning. But after striking out Alejandro De Aza on a well-placed change-up, and Steve Pearce on an 89 mph cutter, the starter got out of what resulted in a 31-pitch inning. - The righty did it again in the following inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out jam. In this case, Buchholz induced a 3-2-3 double play and a Ryan Flaherty strikeout to end the frame. - The Red Sox were finally able to get to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman in the sixth inning, with David Ortiz managing his third hit of the game, a line-drive double to right field, to kick things off. Ortiz was ultimately plated when Tillman mishandled a slow roller off the bat of Sandoval. - Brock Holt -- who was starting in center field -- collected another three hits, giving him 11 for the season in just 19 at-bats. "I mean the biggest thing is just it'€™s hard to keep a rhythm when you'€™re not in there every day," Holt said. "I do the same thing routine wise I would do if I was playing every day. Sometimes I'€™m not in there. I just try to keep that part of it the same and work on things in the cage and bp and if I'€™m in there great and if not be ready to go."