|Buchholz shows youngsters can pitch no-hitters, too|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 11:22|
Josh Beckett flashed a big smile, rubbed Buchholz's head and hugged him.
``A lot better than Curt Schilling did,'' Beckett shouted.
Schilling came within one out of a no-hitter June 8. And right now, Buchholz stands alone. None of the multimillionaires in the Red Sox rotation has thrown a major league no-hitter.
Not Schilling, who is making $13 million this season. Not Beckett ($6.6 million). Not Tim Wakefield ($4 million). Daisuke Matsuzaka ($6.3 million) is in his first year in the majors but never threw a no-hitter in eight seasons in Japan.
Total salaries: $29.9 million. Total pro starts: 1,150. Total no-hitters: 0.
``You have to have great stuff on a certain night,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said Sunday, ``but you have to have breaks, too.''
Buchholz hurled his masterpiece - a 10-0 win Saturday night over the Baltimore Orioles - in just his second major league appearance. Another outstanding rookie, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, saved it for him with a diving stop behind the base. He got up and threw out Miguel Tejada leading off the seventh.
Center fielder Coco Crisp also made several good running catches.
``It was a great day for me and, hopefully, more to come,'' a groggy Buchholz said Sunday morning.
Soon after the game, he found about 80 text messages on his phone. He finally called his father, ``Skip,'' back home in Texas about 90 minutes after the crowd stopped cheering. He tried to go to sleep at 4 a.m. and couldn't, so he got to Fenway Park at 8 a.m.
``I'm still living sort of a blur,'' he said before Sunday's game at his locker where he had Saturday night's lineup card. ``It's probably going to sink in as the day goes on.''
The Red Sox acquired Buchholz, indirectly, for a former ace. They chose him with a compensatory draft pick they received when Pedro Martinez left as a free agent for the New York Mets in 2005.
Martinez hasn't thrown a no-hitter in 375 career starts. Roger Clemens, another ex-Red Sox great, is 0-for-705.
``I think it's harder to do it further in your career because people know what pitches are coming. They've seen you a lot,'' Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said. ``That's not to take anything away from the kid. The kid threw great.''
Buchholz is the 21st rookie to throw a no-hitter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous one was by Florida's Anibal Sanchez, a former Red Sox prospect traded for Beckett and Lowell, against Arizona last Sept. 6.
He made his major league debut Aug. 17, rejoined Triple-A Pawtucket after that win over the Los Angeles Angels and then headed to Boston on Saturday when teams could expand rosters beyond 25.
Unlike Schilling, who shook off catcher Jason Varitek's signal before Oakland's Shannon Stewart singled to end the no-hit bid, Buchholz listened to the veteran.
The lanky right-hander mixed his changeup, curve, fastball and an occasional slider. He struck out Brian Roberts swinging and retired Corey Patterson on a fly ball in the ninth. Then Nick Markakis, who had been retired twice on changeups, was frozen by a looping curve for the called third strike that ended the game.
``I couldn't even get my bat around,'' Markakis said.
That was on the 115th pitch by a 23-year-old who hadn't throw more than 94 in a game this year. He's has thrown 140 1-3 innings this season, just 20 fewer than his total for his other two pro seasons. Francona was considering taking him out if the pitch count reached 120 - even with a no-hitter.
He's not sure how much more Buchholz will pitch this year for fear of damaging his arm.
``We don't know,'' he said. It's ``not very smart'' to discard guidelines that have been set for all young pitchers.
Buchholz hopes he doesn't get carried away, so he limited his viewing of television replays of his performance.
``I try not to watch,'' he said as a big-screen TV beside him in the clubhouse showed highlights of the game. ``I don't want to think it's going to be that way every time.''
Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone was working in Atlanta when Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz starred there. They had no no-hitters in a combined 1,821 major league starts.
``A no-hitter is a no-hitter, but you can point to a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame that never pitched a no-hitter,'' Mazzone said. ``The most impressive thing was the way (Buchholz) was able to keep hitters off balance.''
In a box high behind home plate, the man who drafted Buchholz rested his elbows on a desk, cupped his chin in his hands and waited for the last pitch. Then general manager Theo Epstein leaped high twice and embraced members of his baseball operations staff.
He said Buchholz's performance is ``probably the best symbol'' of the team's gradual transition from veterans like Martinez to youngsters who can make an impact in a hurry.
Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer is one Hall of Famer who pitched a no-hitter. It happened 38 years ago against Oakland. He said Buchholz has a better changeup and curve than he did as a rookie, but ``I think he'll have a little trouble with his fastball command.''
That wasn't a problem Saturday.
``He was bringing it in the ninth and threw pitches past Brian Roberts, which doesn't happen, so I was impressed'' with the no-hitter, Palmer said. ``Next time he'll be thinking, 'Until they get a hit, I've got a chance to pitch another one.'''
That would put him two up on Schilling, Wakefield, Matsuzaka, Clemens, Martinez, Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz - combined.
``I'm still sort of in a fantasy world right now,'' Buchholz said.