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Red Sox Extras: In Best Outing, Clay Buchholz Gets Bad Result

Red Sox Extras is a postgame feature providing analysis for each game. Boston fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1 Wednesday night in Tropicana Field.

Clay Buchholz has had an odd season to date. Going 3-1 in his first six outings despite allowing at least five earned runs every time, Buchholz has settled down in his last two starts, giving his best performance of the young season Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox lost, and Clay was saddled with the decision.

Making things even more curious was how the runs came across. The first one came around to score on a two-out balk. The other when, with Andrew Miller in the game and two inherited runners on base, Cody Ross misplayed what likely should have been an unproductive fly ball, turning it into a sacrifice fly instead. The second run would likely have scored anyways, given the single that followed, but Buchholz managed to strike Jose Molina out after the balk, ending the inning. But for an awkward turn to first, this could have been a very different game.

So what was different for Clay on Wednesday? It likely didn't hurt that he finally had a decent outing behind him, taking some of the pressure off and providing him with some confidence that, yes, he was capable of recording outs without surrendering runs. Looking purely at the pitching, however, what was really different for Buchholz tonight was his ability to use both his change and curve with decent frequency and consistency. With Clay still unable to paint corners, it kept batters from sitting on easy fastballs in the zone. Buchholz is the sort of pitcher who will live or die with his off-speed stuff, so it's nice to see him finally living for once.

The problem for the Red Sox was that the offense just didn't do its job--in particular the top of the order. Only Dustin Pedroia managed a hit amongst the first five Boston batters. It's a change of pace for a bunch that's been putting up hit after hit of late, but for Will Middlebrooks it's actually more of the same. Over the last few games its become clear that the league has more or less figured him out, leading to plenty of uncomfortable at bats and strikeouts. It's up to him now to adjust to fill the holes in his game and get back to producing.

Finally, viewers last night were shown the distressing scene of Will Rhymes collapsing to the ground at first base after being hit by a pitch. It's the sort of thing that inspires the worst kinds of fears, but word from the Rays is that it was just an adrenaline rush, and X-rays were negative, so all seems to be as well as could be hoped for there.

Final - 5.16.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 0
Tampa Bay Rays 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 2 8 0
WP: Jeremy Hellickson (4 - 0)
SV: Fernando Rodney (12)
LP: Clay Buchholz (4 - 2)

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