FINDING A WAY: It’s evident Clay Buchholz is missing his best stuff. Not a surprise. The velocity on his fastball is down about 3-4 mph from his average heater this season.
But he’s thrown a couple of pretty good breaking balls _ and what he does have tonight is an effective two-seam fastball. It’s sinking well and running away from left-handed hitters. If he can harness his two-seamer and work off that, maybe Buchholz can induce a steady stream of grounders keep the Cardinals at bay for a while.
Interesting challenge for him _ finding a way to hang in there without his regular weapons. This is not a guy who has a reputation for mental toughness.
After he opened 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA this season, Buchholz was selected to the AL All-Star team. But he missed the next three months with a strained neck, longer than expected. That led to his toughness being questioned, and Buchholz was aware of the criticism.
When he came back in September, Buchholz went 3-1 in four solid starts. He finished the regular season 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA but was a mixed bag in three AL playoff starts.
GOOD SIGN? Pretty encouraging start for Buchholz and the Red Sox. The two-time All-Star was pushed back to Game 4 in this Series because of weakness in his pitching shoulder, and no one seemed too sure what Boston would get from Buchholz.
His fastball was in the upper 80s (mph) in the first inning, and he bounced a wild breaking ball well wide of the plate. But he was able to throw strikes and get far enough inside on Matt Holliday to induce an inning-ending grounder to third.
Perhaps most important, Buchholz looked fairly calm out there.