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Clay Buchholz on struggles in 2014: ‘I don’t know how to explain it’

08.04.14 at 7:16 am ET
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Clay Buchholz really does try not to look up at his numbers on the Fenway Park scoreboard. But when things are going as bad as they have been as of late for the righty, a glance is inevitable.

I know you’€™re not supposed to look up at the board and look at numbers, but everybody sees it, so it’€™s a constant battle when you’€™re trying to throw up zeroes,” Buchholz said. “When it doesn’t happen it’€™s more frustrating, and that’€™s part of the game. That’€™s why the game is hard. Got to find a way to get through it. “

Sunday’s five-inning, seven-run, eight-hit, five-walk, five-strikeout performance in an 8-7 loss to the Yankees represented the hurler’s fourth straight game in which he allowed more than four runs and his third straight start in which he walked more than four batters. Things have gotten to the point  for Buchholz where even the 29-year-old is short of answers on why he continues to struggle.

“I don’t know,” the Red Sox starter said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

For a while, it appeared that Buchholz’s stint on the disabled list had done him well. After struggling with command prior to his stint on the DL, Buchholz seemed to regain his form, walking no batters in four of his five starts since returning on June 25.

Buchholz’s command has seemingly evaporated. At a time when Buchholz is now the senior member of the Red Sox pitching rotation, things are trending downward. Buchholz, the de facto leader of the Red Sox rotation, possesses the highest ERA among starting pitchers in the league with at least 100 innings pitched at 6.20.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves said there aren’t any mechanical or health issues with Buchholz.

“He just needs to attack the strike zone,” Nieves said. “You see it in the bullpen. We expect it in the game, and right now we’re not seeing the translation to the game.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell, on the other hand, seemed to notice something in Buchholz’s delivery that might have contributed to the righty’s struggles on Sunday.

Said Farrell: “There is a little bit of a tendency to be too fine that has caused him to fall behind in the count, and mechanically he may be running away from his arm a little bit where it’s causing some pitches to be missed up to the arm side, but still, it’s the overall pitch mix to each.”

Nieves said that Buchholz looks great during his bullpen sessions between starts. The number of walks Buchholz has issued over his last couple of starts does not give the team a chance, Nieves said.

“If we’re going to get beat, we should get beat by them swinging the bat, not by walking guys. You walk guys in this league, you’re going to pay the price,” Nieves said. “Everybody goes through bumps and bruises, even the best pitchers. We just have to stay positive with them and continue to work, going back to the working block and continue work.”

Buchholz said he does not feel any different being the veteran pitcher of the rotation, and he noted that all he can do is go back to work and try again.

My mindset is always to go out and compete and keep the team in the game,” Buchholz said with a shrug. “Obviously I didn’t do either of those tonight.”

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