Buchholz, Red Sox shelled in Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. — It was Daric Barton’s two-run single that knocked out Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz’s lack of command led to 39 pitches, only 17 of them strikes.
Barton’s hit ended the evening for Buchholz after just one full inning and four batters into the second, the shortest non-injury-related start of his career. Though Buchholz’s Cy Young campaign was looking like more of a longshot with the excellence of Seattle’s Felix Hernandez and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, his start last night likely erased his name entirely from the competition.
With five runs allowed, Buchholz’s ERA — which led the American League at the start of the day — jumped from 2.25 to 2.53, putting him behind Hernandez (2.30) and just ahead of last night’s opponent, Trevor Cahill (2.61). And with those earned runs, the Sox dropped the first game of their six-game West Coast trip, 5-0, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in front of 19,139.
“I’m not worried about the whole Cy Young deal,’’ Buchholz said. “I’m worried about this team winning games. Definitely not a good night to throw one-plus out there. Team’s trying to battle and stay in a position to where we can catch up with the guys ahead of us. Just a poor effort on my part. I know you’re going to have bad games, but I think a bad game for a pitcher on this staff is going out and giving up a couple runs in four or five innings, not one inning.’’
The Sox fell 7 1/2 games behind the Rays in the wild-card race, and remain nine behind the Yankees.
It was ugly for the Sox last night, no question. Buchholz faced only 11 batters before manager Terry Francona removed him in favor of Dustin Richardson. In that time, Buchholz allowed five runs, five hits, four walks, and got only three outs, leaving the Sox down, 5-0 to Cahill and the A’s.
“Just kind of flat,’’ Francona said of Buchholz. “He had the four walks, and never was able to establish any sort of rhythm. He wasn’t able to settle in and kind of find himself and maybe give up a couple in the first and settle into the game. It just wasn’t a good night.’’
Buchholz got out of a tough spot in the first inning, giving up three runs after allowing the first five batters to reach. Coco Crisp led off with a single that touched off Jed Lowrie’s glove, then Barton walked, setting up Sox killer Kurt Suzuki’s two-run double to left field. Jack Cust walked and Mark Ellis dropped a bunt along the third-base line that rolled to a stop without being touched by either Buchholz or Adrian Beltre.
The bases were loaded for Jeremy Hermida. But Hermida, true to the form he had shown in his later days with the Sox, grounded into a double play. A third run scored, but Buchholz was able to get out of the inning after striking out Rajai Davis, who went down looking. He would get no more outs.
After Cahill had run through a 1-2-3 inning, including Crisp’s stellar over-the-fence catch to rob Ryan Kalish of a leadoff home run — “That felt good,’’ Crisp said. “That was one of the best home runs I ever robbed. For them not to draw first blood, it makes a difference.’’ — Buchholz went back to the mound, but didn’t last long. He gave up a leadoff walk to Jeff Larish, then allowed a single to Cliff Pennington. After giving up another walk to Crisp, Barton singled to right field, scoring two more runners.
“I felt good, just missing with pitches,’’ Buchholz said. “Trying to go in, missing away. Felt like I’ve been off for seven days. That’s basically what it felt like. It didn’t really feel comfortable in the bullpen throwing.
“Tried to go at 70 percent down there, and sort of tried to stay under control. Whenever you get out there on the mound during the game, adrenaline kicks in. Trying to make pitches better than what I needed to make, and when I missed they hit them . . . just not a good game.’’
The Sox did little after Kalish’s home run attempt. They got just three hits off Cahill over the first six innings, a double by Josh Reddick in the second inning, a single by Beltre in the fourth, and a single by Victor Martinez in the sixth.
There was one bright spot for the Sox, that their bullpen didn’t allow a run. Robert Coello loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but the A’s couldn’t add to their lead against the combination of Richardson, Michael Bowden, Coello, and Robert Manuel.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.