Much has been made of the attempt for Clay to increase his command of the fastball, but tonight that big overhand curveball that makes scouts drool was all seasoning and no meat. He consistently left the curve high and inside on righthanded hitters and away from lefties, which belies an early release point and perhaps some here-you-take-it anxiety.
Perhaps to hide the criminal neglect of his talent, Buchholz flashed his potential like a fake badge, striking out 5 in the 3rd and 4th innings. In the 4th he whiffed Luke Scott on an archetypal changeup, down and away, a pitch that added to the sum total of beauty in the world.
But true baseball beauty comes in patterns and repetition. The mechanical aspect of pitching in command is the discipline to duplicate previous motions; Clay was not pitching so much as his body was throwing, and save that one stretch, was not in control of anything. With 5 walks and 107 pitches in 5 innings, he fought a losing battle.
The game as a whole had no bones; and before the last gasp failed rally in the 9th, the Fenway crowd was unusually silent. Sox hitters uncharacteristically took a rather blase approach to mediocre Orioles starter Brian Burres, who somehow made it into the 7th inning with a low pitch count despite walking 3. Instead of the grinding approach characteristic of the Sox that erodes top starters and pulverizes the middling, the Sox seemed to think that with minimal effort on their part, the bats would hit Burres' underwhelming stuff for them. But sluggish is not slugging, and the Sox failed to capitalize on the Yanks and Tampa losses.