BOSTON -- Not only did the Red Sox lose a heartbreaking 17-inning marathon to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, but they were again left to wonder what has happened to Clay Buchholz, who seemed on the verge of becoming an ace not so long ago.
The start to this season has been a nightmare for Buchholz. He has pitched six times, and given up five runs or more every time out.
Buchholz is the first Red Sox starter since Red Ruffing in 1925 to give up five earned runs or more in six consecutive starts.
After the excruciating loss, manager Bobby Valentine wasn't ready to proclaim that Buchholz needs to take a break from the starting rotation.
But Valentine had a lot on his mind. He needed to use seven relievers in the loss, and his team is in the midst of a 20-game, 20-day stretch.
"Yeah, there were a lot of pitchers used today," Valentine said. "[Buchholz] was one of them and I've got to figure out what to do -- and how to get by with all these guys who really did a yeomen's job today. I have no plans to change [Buchholz's role] at this time."
What plagued Buchholz this time?
"Clay's performance was not what he wanted it to be for sure, and not what I wanted it to be," Valentine said. "He left a lot of pitches in a real hittable zone and gave up a lot of hard-hit balls."
After getting tagged for seven hits, five runs and three homers over 3 2/3 innings, Buchholz's ERA swelled to 9.09. Somehow, his record is 3-1.
"I've been upset at myself for the last six weeks," Buchholz said. "It's just frustrating to go out there and make some good pitches and still get hit. The game's not easy. That's the thing I have to keep telling myself. It's not that easy. It looks easy for some guys. Sometimes you've got to go through some struggles to get where you want to be. That's where I'm at right now. I've just got to find a way through it."