Clay Buchholz has a 5.40 ERA since the start of the 2014 season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz takes some responsibility for poor performance: 'I have to do a lot better job than that'

Ryan Hannable
April 28, 2015 - 7:51 pm
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Another game, another poor outing from a Red Sox starter. Coming into the season the Red Sox weren't expected to have five pitcher's competing for the Cy Young. But, what they've received through the first 21 games has been far from what anyone thought they would get. Dependability was the word thrown around most, and the Red Sox starters have been anything but dependable. No. 1 starter Clay Buchholz was the latest to go down, as he went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) all in the third inning before being boo'd off the Fenway Park mound in an eventual 11-8 loss to the Blue Jays. All the damage came after he was given a 4-0 lead going into the inning. It was the second time in five starts this season where he's failed to record two outs in the third inning and Tuesday was the shortest outing of his career since going 2 1/3 innings April 21 of last year against the Orioles. "I mean, whenever the team gives you a four-run lead you're supposed to come out a lot better than that," said Buchholz. "Went out there with a game plan of throwing strikes, let them put the ball in play and get outs. Walked the first guy. All the contact that they made -- they hit the ball hard and it wasn't at any of our players in the field. I have to do a lot better job than that." "I have to do a better job of minimizing the damage in that inning and getting us back in there with the lead still. I didn't do a good job of that," he added. Buchholz now has an ERA of 5.76 and Red Sox starters now have a collective ERA of 6.03, the worst in the majors. It'€™€™s the eighth time in 21 games the Red Sox'€™€™ starter has failed to make it out of the fifth inning. Furthermore, Buchholz is the third Red Sox starter to allow five earned runs in fewer than three innings this season. This comes after they had three such outings all of last season. "I would have liked to stay in there a little bit longer, but that's not my call," Buchholz said. "I have have to do a better job of persuading I guess in a way. Couple of pitches that got hit hard, like I said, I felt like they were pretty good pitches. Other ones were mistakes in the zone and that is what good hitters are supposed to do. I am a lot better than that. Get them again in two more starts and I'll do a lot better job next time." On June 8, 2013 Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA and the favorite for the American League Cy Young. Then he went down with a neck and shoulder injury. He returned September 10, and although he finished the year 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA, he hasn't been the same pitcher since before the injury. He has an ERA of 5.01 since the injury (regular-season only), and furthermore, if you take away the four September starts in 2013, his ERA jumps to 5.40. For his career, coming into Tuesday his ERA was 3.95. Some of have his struggles have been mental, which Buchholz sort of eluded to after the game Tuesday. "I've found the last couple of years the more you think about it the more you press and the harder it is to go out there and perform the next time out," he said. "Like I said, it's not a good feeling when you get hit in any type of way, but today, preparing the way that I prepare, I feel like I put myself in the best position for this team to win. When it goes that way it doesn't mesh well." The right-hander has shown signs of getting back to the pre-injury Buchholz of 2013, as in his last two starts he went six innings in each, allowing two runs against the Orioles and one run against the Rays. The work in between starts and stuff on the mound is there, just the results haven't been consistent. '€œThere have been games in which he has [pitched well]," manager John Farrell said. "To sustain it, I can'€™t say it'€™s because of lack or recovery time. It'€™s not a different approach to the five days or the four work days in between starts. You pay close attention to the physical and mental routines that are being followed, and those have been consistent. It'€™s a matter of, to me, understanding and reading swings inside a given game and adjusting accordingly." With the Red Sox falling to just one-game over .500 and the starting rotation having the issues that they've had, they know they need to turn things around, and turn things around in a hurry. "I don't think there's a lack of work going into it," Buchholz said. "It's sort of snow balling right now. We have to find a way to stop that. Don't have a whole lot of luck on our side right now. The balls that are hit, like I said are finding holes, and seems like every ball that we hit are right at people, so got to buy time and just work. Work harder and go after them next time."

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