BOSTON — Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz had a shaky sixth inning against Toronto yesterday, allowing singles to the first two batters, Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells, but then the righthander got down to business — something he has done so many times this season.
Buchholz fired strike three past Adam Lind, got Red Sox killer Lyle Overbay to fly out to right field and retired John McDonald on a liner to second base.
Buchholz, who was able to pitch out of a few jams yesterday without allowing any runs, proved again that he is the ace of this Boston staff and a Cy Young award candidate.
The All-Star selection hasn't allowed an earned run in three straight starts and over his past 23 1/3 innings.
Buchholz and the Red Sox beat Toronto 5-0 here at Fenway Park in front of 37,506.
The righty picked up his 15th win and lowered his American League leading ERA to 2.26.
He pitched six innings, allowing no runs, five hits and three walks while striking out seven.
It's unbelievable that we're watching the same pitcher who in 2008 posted a 2-9 record, a 6.75 ERA and seemed to get frustrated every single time something went wrong.
"There was a couple of times (in '08) when I was wanting to go home," Buchholz said. "Now I feel like if I make a mistake, I can come back and readjust and get a ground ball out or get a ball hit in the outfield."
A different pitcher
Maybe the biggest difference between a struggling Buchholz in 2008 and a mature, top-of-the rotation Buchholz now is he is not fretting after putting runners on base and not looking for the strikeout each time he faces a jam.
His strikeout numbers actually are down this year.
Buchholz averaged approximately 7.4 strikeouts per start when he was with Portland and Pawtucket in 2007. With Boston in 2008, Buchholz averaged 4.7 strikeouts per start.