Buchholz (10-4, 2.47 ERA) has won seven of eight starts behind a 1.62 ERA after splitting his first six games of the season with a 3.82 ERA. He has 10 wins in 14 starts in 2010 after totaling nine victories in 31 starts over the previous two years.
“I think it is just having to go through some struggles before you can pitch with confidence in key situations in a game,” Buchholz told the team’s official website. “And in a nut shell that is what I think has helped me get better.”
The outstanding turnaround could help the right-hander become the AL’s starter for next month’s All-Star game in Anaheim, and gaining sole possession of the league’s lead in victories could boost those chances.
Buchholz is also third in the league in ERA, two-hundredths of a point behind Price for second. He’s closed the gap in that category by seeing three of his last five outings result in shutout victories for the Red Sox (44-31).
Buchholz turned in another superb effort Sunday, yielding three hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Just a maturing young pitcher,” manager Terry Francona said. “His stuff is so good, now that he’s got some repetition under his belt the game doesn’t speed up for him.”
Another strong effort from Buchholz could help soften the blow of the potential absence of Dustin Pedroia(notes), who left Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Giants (40-32) after fouling a ball off his left foot. X-rays were negative, but the second baseman had a hard time putting weight on the foot and will undergo more tests Saturday.
“I’m sore. I’ll get checked out and make sure we get to the bottom of everything,” said Pedroia, who is hitting .491 with four homers and 13 RBIs in his last 14 games.
The Giants are looking to win for the eighth time in nine games at AT&T Park.
Off days last week allowed San Francisco to skip the rookie right-hander in the rotation. Martinez yielded two hits in a scoreless inning of relief in Wednesday’s 6-3 defeat at Houston.
Martinez, a sinkerballer, is 0-3 with an 8.15 ERA in five home games - three starts - since winning his major league debut by throwing two innings of relief against Milwaukee on April 7, 2009.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Giants will retire the No. 20 worn by Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who became the first black player in team history when he signed with the club on July 8, 1949. Irvin was only a member of the franchise when it was located in New York.