Clay Buchholz will take the ball in Sunday’s Game 3. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
Clay Buchholz is no stranger to pitching in Game 3 of an ALDS with his team trailing 0-2.
In 2009, the Red Sox trailed the Angels 0-2 and Buchholz got the ball in Game 3. The right-handed pitched well, allowing two runs on six hits in five innings, while walking one and striking out three. He took a no-decision, but the Red Sox lost 7-6, ending their season.
Buchholz, who has the most postseason experience of any Red Sox starter, will rely on the past to help him get through Sunday.
“It’s a baseball game,” Buchholz said. “Like I said, it’s on a little bit bigger stage, but you’ve still got to go out and do the small things that you’re capable of doing, and that’s making pitches whenever they are called upon. You’ve got to minimize the damage.
“I think that’s the biggest key in post-season is whenever some bad situations present themselves, you’ve got to know how to minimize them or get a ground ball when you need it. When you do that, I think that adds to your team coming back in the dugout, to get back in the box and score some runs.”
It’s been an up-and-down year for Buchholz to say the least. He’s gone back-and-forth between the rotation and the bullpen both because of his own performance and due to injuries to other starters.
Buchholz has been in the rotation for the past month or so and has pitched his best baseball of the season. Over his last five starts, he’s 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA.
The right-hander also has enjoyed some postseason success of late. The Red Sox have won each of his last three postseason starts, most recently Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.
It seems only fitting he gets the ball in a must-win game.
“Everybody goes through some struggles at some point at the end of the year,” Buchholz said. “You know, mine were a little bit more extreme than others, but that being said, you know, we’re all here to win games; to play for a championship, and whenever things are going wrong, especially in this atmosphere, this environment, this organization, you’re expected to be really good every time out, and sometimes that can pile up on you.”
“I thought in my mind I would be on the mound in a deciding game, as well,” added Buchholz. “It was a little far-fetched at one point this year, but you know, I’m still here. So I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Manager John Farrell also noted Buchholz’s up-and-down season and was quick to note his resurgence of late, even going as far to say it could be the right-hander’s best stretch of his whole career.
“He’s been very consistent over the past probably six to eight weeks,” Farrell said. “He’s had a resurgence of his own right inside this season. So I don’t think anyone has watched as closely — can fully appreciate all that he’s been through this year, from someone that needed a little bit of a breather from the rotation, worked out some issues while going to the bullpen and has returned and pitching some of the best baseball, I think, in his career.”
Best stretch of his career or not, the Red Sox just need him to be good on Sunday to keep the season going.