Phillies

Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz is continuing to refine his latest weapon in the battle to get batters to swing and miss -- the high fastball.

Buchholz struck out six in 3 1/3 innings of work against the Yankees on Friday. He gave up four hits, including a three-run homer to Chase Headley in the first inning, but he also showed he can sit batters down if he can keep his four-seamer high and out of danger.

"I started [throwing high fastballs] last year and I don't know why it took me 10 or 11 years to figure out that could help but it did," Buchholz said. "It's one of those things to where if you don't get it up there high enough, it's an easy pitch to hit. You have to make sure that you set your target high above the belt and at the letters and try to make it a pitch that's good enough to offer at."

The pitch that Headley took deep over the right-field wall wasn't a high fastball but rather a breaking ball that caught too much of the plate.

"Yeah, it was the one pitch I didn't quite get it where I wanted it to and it was a homer," Buchholz said. "I've faced a pretty big group of those guys throughout my career ... if you don't make your pitches against the veterans in that group, they will make you pay."

Buchholz started the game by using the high fastball to retire Aaron Hicks swinging and slowed things down to get Gary Sanchez with a 78-mph breaking ball off the plate. Greg Bird was able to reach for a first-pitch fastball and get a single to shallow right field and Matt Holliday walked on four straight pitches to set the table for Headley, who took the breaking ball right over the 330-foot sign in right field.

But Buchholz was able to bounce back and get Headley with the high fastball the second time he faced him.

All of Buchholz's strikeouts were swing-and-misses.

"It's good when you're getting swings-and-misses against a team that doesn't have a lot of free-swinging guys," Buchholz said. "And they can be dangerous if you aren't in command of your pitches. Getting strike one and getting them in a swing mode is key to getting quick at-bats and not letting them stay out there and see more pitches."

Buchholz said he began tinkering with the placement of the pitch to try to get batters to climb the ladder when his sinker wasn't effective. And now he's focused on trying to control both pitches to force batters to adjust their eye levels.

"I've been a sinker-ball guy my whole career," Buchholz said. "You don't want to throw sinkers up, you want to throw them down. So, whenever the sinker started getting hit we had to switch it up a little bit, so we went back to four seams and it's working."