BOSTON -- Through the first month of the season, Clay Buchholz proclaimed himself the only pitcher in Major League Baseball who was complaining about wins.
He went 3-1 in five starts in April, but had an ERA of 8.69, and hadn't allowed less than five runs in any of those outings. But he was getting enough offensive support to get him wins.
In his last two starts against the rival Tampa Bay Rays, it's been the opposite. Buchholz has been at his best, but in those two starts, he's 0-1.
Alfredo Aceves blew it for him on Sunday at Fenway Park. Buchholz finished the game having allowed just two runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out a season-best six batters.
When Buchholz left the mound after the top of the seventh, the Red Sox trailed 2-0. But thanks to Adrian Gonzalez' heroic three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, Buchholz was lined up for his team-leading fifth win of the season.
But Aceves blew it in the ninth, allowing a two-run home run to Sean Rodriguez that put the Rays ahead 4-3, which ended up being the final score, giving Buchholz a no-decision.
"Clay had a really good changeup, his fastball was explosive, I was very encouraged," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "He looked good. He looked good, and then gave up that second run. He was still throwing pretty good, I guess.
"I thought we were going to pull that one out and get him one he deserved. I thought he deserved a win today."
Buchholz was also disappointed that he hasn't got the results in his last two starts against the Rays, both this weekend and last week, when he allowed two runs in five innings while walking one and striking out five at the Trop.
"Nobody likes losing, but I was always told that you've got to be able to accept it sometimes," said Buchholz afterwards. "It's a tough loss there."
Buchholz was, however, encouraged with his changeup on Sunday. It's always been a strikeout pitch for him, and after searching for it for weeks, he feels he's finally made the proper progression with the pitch that allows him to confidently throw it in any count.
"I've been able to start trusting it again, and throwing it like I have in the past," said Buchholz.
"It's the pitch that always has been a strikeout pitch for me my whole career, in the minor leagues, up here," he added. "It's a pitch that I can throw behind in a count when it's good, and I can also throw it when I'm ahead in the count."
His catcher agreed.
"He went after guys, threw strikes, was able to throw strikes with his changeup, was able to get ahead with the fastball as well," said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "But his changeup is so good that its tough to sit back and wait on it when hes throwing that fastball as hard as he does. So he did a great job, a great job all around."
Result aside, if you noticed anything else different with Buchholz on Sunday, it was the speed he was working at. Buchholz said that he made it a point to work quicker on Sunday, and that it was an area that came up before his previous start in Baltimore.
"I tried doing it in Baltimore," said Buchholz. "Just to get back on the mound, regardless of what pitch I just threw and the result of that pitch. And to keep my infielders on their toes, because I know, I've played the position before, and it's tough when you've got a guy out there taking forever to throw each pitch."
It seemed like it worked, and Buchholz put together another solid outing against the Rays. He just didn't get the end result he deserved.