TORONTO — The first inning Wednesday night was a nightmare for Clay Buchholz.
Not only did he allow the Blue Jays to claim three runs in the frame after the Red Sox had busted out with three in the top of the first, but the Red Sox starter also experienced another uncomfortable incident in the middle of it all — a baseball off the side of his head.
With two outs in the first, Munenori Kawasaki hit a one-hopper back up the middle that somehow avoided Buchholz’ glove, hitting the pitcher in the right side of the head. The play resulted in some anxious moments, with manager John Farrell and trainer Brad Pearson running to the mound to tend to Buchholz, who had just risen to his feet upon their arrival.
“Just probably as a pitcher, when ball’s hit at you, it looks like it’s coming back either a thousand miles an hour or really slow,” he said. “Felt like I got my glove up and I was sort of falling away from it and it went over my glove.”
When asked what went through his mind at the time, Buchholz said, “Well, it didn’t get me in the face. That was the first checkpoint. It dazed me, for sure. Any time that you get hit with the ball it’s going to take you a second, but yeah, once I got up and once I got my bearings straight, I felt fine.”
The initial diagnosis after the grounder wasn’t good for Buchholz, who immediately allowed an RBI ground-rule double to light-hitting Josh Thole.
The good news was that, for the most part, Buchholz settled down the rest of the way.
With the starter fighting to stay out of the bad mechanics that had plagued him for much of the season’s first few months, Buchholz rebounded from the three-run first to hold the Blue Jays scoreless until the sixth.
“Definitely was coming out of it, jumping a little, and that’s what causes your pitches to miss,” said Buchholz of his mechanics. “Just couldn’t seem to correct it for the duration of the game. Felt like I’d get through it really good for a couple hitters and then fall back into it. Just something that happens sometimes. Got to do a better job taking care of it.”
“There was a tendency to fly open occasionally,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of his starter. “He missed some pitches to the arm side maybe a little bit more today than we’ve seen of late, but I don’t think it was anything that was glaring. He threw some very good curveballs. He threw some changeups and mixed that in. But the overall sharpness wasn’t what it’s been the last four times out.”