Rookie Buchholz pitches no-hitter in second career start
Got to keep the kid now.
The 23-year-old rookie pitched that no-hitter in just his second outing, using a dazzling three-pitch assortment of fastballs, curves and changeups to beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-0 Saturday night.
“There’s no going back to Triple-A,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Buchholz was called up from Pawtucket on Saturday when teams were allowed to expand their 25-man rosters. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia helped preserve the no-hit bid with a sensational diving stop in the seventh inning.
The crowd stood through the entire ninth, cheering every pitch and taking pictures of the righty in his windup and as he paced around the mound.
He started the inning by striking out Brian Roberts on a 93 mph fastball. A groan rose from the stands when Corey Patterson hit a line drive to center with one out, but Coco Crisp easily moved over to catch it.
Buchholz started Nick Markakis with a ball, then went ahead 1-2 when the batter fouled one off with a check swing. The crowd grew even louder, the flashes were constant, and Buchholz threw a 77 mph curveball that Markakis watched go by.
“He’s somebody you don’t want to see running at you, full-speed,” Buchholz said.
No one stopped cheering until Buchholz appeared on the scoreboard for a television interview, and the fans hushed to try to hear him. But when “Clay Buchholz, No-hitter” appeared on the message board, the ballpark erupted anew.
The closest the Orioles came to a hit was when Miguel Tejada started the seventh with a sharp grounder up the middle. Pedroia raced to his right and dove. He backhanded the ball, stood up and fired to first, where the throw beat Tejada, who slid in headfirst.
“I jumped up as fast as I could and I threw it as hard as I could,” Pedroia said.
Buchholz jumped but missed the ball.
“I was thinking it was over,” Buchholz said. “When he made that play I knew something was meant to happen tonight. It was an incredible moment in my life.”
The final pitch was his 115th, 21 more than his longest outing of the year in the majors or minors. If he had reached 120, even if he had a no-hitter, he would have been taken out, general manager Theo Epstein said.
Mike Lowell scoffed at the notion.
“If there’s two outs in the ninth, Theo would have had to come down there and had to take him out himself,” he said.
Francona spoke to Epstein after the seventh and eighth innings.
“He wasn’t a whole lot of help,” Francona said. “We feel like we have a huge responsibility to this kid. But somebody else would have had to put on a uniform and take him out because that would have been very difficult.”
Buchholz, who turned 23 on Aug. 14, pitched the third no-hitter of the season—following Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox against Texas on April 18 and Justin Verlander of Detroit against Milwaukee on June 12. It’s the first time there have been three no-hitters in a season since 2001.
Buchholz (2-0) became the 21st rookie to throw a no-hitter since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous one to do it was Florida’s Anibal Sanchez, a former Red Sox prospect traded for Josh Beckett and Lowell, against Arizona last Sept. 6.
The Boston newcomer became the third pitcher since 1900 to throw a no-hitter in his first or second major league start, Elias said. Bobo Hollomon did it in his first start in 1953 for the St. Louis Browns, and Wilson Alvarez did it in his second in 1991 for the Chicago White Sox.
Baltimore nearly got a hit in the sixth. Leadoff hitter Roberts walked but was picked off by Buchholz. Patterson hit a medium liner to left-center. Crisp got an outstanding jump and made a running, backhanded catch.
West, working his first no-hitter behind the plate of a big league career that began in 1976, gave Varitek a lot of credit.
“He worked the kid all night, making him change speeds and everything,” West said. “He didn’t blow them away because they were hitting the ball, but he changed speeds. It wasn’t like a 15- or 16-strikeout game.”
Buchholz nailed down his no-hitter a night after Scott Baker of Minnesota came within three outs of a perfect game and two outs of a no-hitter against Kansas City.
It was the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history, and the first since April 27, 2002, when Derek Lowe beat Tampa Bay, also 10-0. The Orioles were no-hit for the first time since April 4, 2001, by Boston’s Hideo Nomo.
“I’ve been a part of some great nights at Fenway,” said Baltimore’s Kevin Millar, a member of the 2004 championship team, “but this stunk. It really stunk.”
The Red Sox broke a four-game losing streak and maintained their five-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees, who beat Tampa Bay.
Boston scored a run in the second off Garrett Olson (1-3) and took a 4-0 lead in the fourth on David Ortiz’s three-run double. The Red Sox made it 8-0 in the eighth on Lowell’s RBI double and Kevin Youkilis’ three-run homer.
“Early in the game we were trying to win,” Tejada said. “But after they got the big lead we were trying to break up the no-hitter.”
Buchholz made his first major league start Aug. 17 when he was called up from Pawtucket to pitch the opener of a day-night doubleheader in Boston against the Angels. He allowed three earned runs in six innings and got the win in the 8-4 victory.
Buchholz drew his second start when the Red Sox were forced to shuffle their rotation after Tim Wakefield was scratched from Friday’s game with a sore back. Buchholz found out in the middle of Pawtucket’s game, gathered his things and headed to Boston.
“Now that I’m here, I feel like nothing can go wrong,” Buchholz said. “I’ll try to keep an even keel and remember it’s not that easy all the time.”
The Red Sox drafted Buchholz, who turned down offers to play wide receiver at Texas, Notre Dame, Purdue and Texas A&M, with a pick obtained as compensation when they lost free agent Pedro Martinez to the New York Mets.
Buchholz was chosen 42nd in the 2005 draft out of Angelina Junior College in Texas, where he went 12-1 with a 1.05 ERA that year.
He started this season with Double-A Portland, where he was 7-2 and led the Eastern League with a 1.77 ERA and 116 strikeouts with one loss in his last 15 outings. He was promoted July 12 to Pawtucket, going 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA in eight starts.
Ortiz reached base four times with a double and three walks. … The Orioles were no-hit for the 14th time in franchise history.
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.