Last night’s start was, hands down, Buchholz’s best start of the year. It’s the best start I’ve seen from him in a long time. And the best part was that it was a start that any pitcher would strive to deliver. As in, I’m not just saying that it was his best start of the year because it was mediocre but it was still comparatively good because of his other starts were mediocre. No, I’m saying that it was his best start of the year because it was solid gold.
Buchholz pitched a full seven innings. He gave up only two runs on eight hits while walking only one and striking out six. He threw 111 pitches, sixty-nine of which were strikes. It was as if someone copy-and-pasted Beckett’s line into Buchholz’s box score. That’s how good he was.
Here’s a breakdown of his pitches. Almost half of his pitches were fastballs; the rest were a fairly even mix of changeups, cutters, and curveballs. His most successful pitch strike-wise was his fastball by far, but his curveball and cutter were pretty good too. Less than half the changeups he threw were strikes.
Here’s a breakdown of his innings. In the first, he gave up a single and threw eleven pitches. In the second, he went one-two-three and threw twelve pitches. In the third, he gave up a single and threw seventeen pitches. In the fourth, he gave up a double which resulted in a run on a groundout due to a bad throw by Gonzalez followed by a single and threw twenty-seven pitches. In the fifth, he went one-two-three despite giving up a single and threw nine pitches, his game low. He gave up a single and his only walk in the sixth and threw fourteen pitches. And he gave up a double followed by an RBI single in the seventh.
Here’s a breakdown of his outs: two flyouts, seven groundouts, one lineout, two double plays, one caught-stealing, and of course the six strikeouts.
Here’s a breakdown of his strikeouts. Two swinging in the second, both on changeups. One called in the third on a fastball. One swinging in the fourth on a cutter. One swinging in the sixth on a curveball. And one swinging in the seventh on a curveball.
And, like Beckett, Buchholz received a no-decision. Morales and Padilla teamed up to pitch the eighth without incident, but Aceves blew his save in the ninth to halt his opportunity-conversion streak at nine. So unlike Beckett, who received a no-decision en route to a win, Buchholz received a no-decision en route to a loss. In the ninth, Aceves gave up a two-run home run; he’d walked his first batter, which was why it was a two-runner.
We had only one run-scoring play all night. It was Gonzalez’s fourth home run of the year in the seventh. For only the second time in the game, two runners were on base, but unlike the fist time, we did something with this time. Papi walked on four pitches, Youk singled, and Gonzalez took a fastball for a ball and then unleashed on a changeup down and away. It was exactly the right timing and exactly the right swing. It ended up right in the Monster seats, and not only was he absolutely thrilled, but he was probably pretty relieved as well. It would be our only extra-base hit.
Unfortunately, Gonzalez found himself in almost the same predicament the very next inning but didn’t convert the opportunity. After two outs, a single, and two walks, one intentional and one unintentional, Gonzalez stood at the plate with the bases loaded and grounded out on the sixth straight fastball of the at-bat.
Then Aceves blew his save, and then we went down in order. The final score was 4-3.
I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. We are now 0-5 in games that could put us over .500. We have lost them all. We have never been over .500 this season. Not once. And this is the longest we’ve gone since 1996. We were two outs away, and Aceves hadn’t blown a save in more than a month. Why? Just, why?