(BaseballStL) -- Trailing 2-1 in the World Series, the Red Sox turned to struggling starter Clay Buchholz in hopes of leveling the series and guaranteeing a return back to Boston.
Admittedly, Buchholz started Game 4 against the Cardinals not at 100 percent health-wise and hoped the adrenaline of pitching in his first World Series game would take away the tightness in his shoulder that plagued him through his first three postseason starts.
Buchholz didn’t reach higher than 90 mph on the radar through the first three innings, but wouldn’t fall into trouble until Matt Carpenter’s one-out single in the third inning was misplayed by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. As the ball took a bad hop past Ellsbury, Carpenter moved into scoring position and scored when Carlos Beltran laced a single to center in the next at-bat.
The run, unearned to Buchholz, gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the third.
Luckily for Buchholz, the 90-mph fastball thrown down the middle of the plate to Beltran only went for a single. Buchholz missed his location again on an 89-mph fastball, but Matt Holliday just got underneath it for a fly out or else the inning could have been worse for the Red Sox.
Buchholz flirted with danger again in the fourth inning when David Freese hit a slow chopper to shortstop Stephen Drew who managed to get the force out at second base. Freese would advance to second on a wild pitch which also brought an intentional walk to Daniel Descalso with a 2-1 count and Lance Lynn, the Cardinals’ starting pitcher, due up next.
The intentional walk almost backfired as Lynn sliced a 2-1 fastball towards the right field line, but outfielder Daniel Nava hauled in the final out.
“We were expecting him to come out pumping a little bit, but I think his pitches were effective,” Freese said. “I think he showed he absolutely knows how to pitch when his speed isn’t there. Obviously it was a click down a little bit down the charts, but the guy can flat out pitch.”
Despite throwing only 66 pitches, Buchholz was lifted in the 5th inning, which was tied 1-1, for a pinch-hitter with two outs and runners on first and second base. The pinch-hitter, Mike Carp, grounded out to end the inning.
Buchholz didn’t factor into the decision in any of the three previous starts and he wouldn’t in his fourth appearance either. He failed to pitch more than six innings in each start.
“I don’t want to skip over Clay Buchholz. That was four innings, so much attention has been brought to, can he make it?” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “A lot of scrutiny around his situation, but given that he might not have had his midseason stuff -- if the ball doesn’t bounce up in the outfield, Beltran might ground into a double play, and may not have given up a run through four innings.”
His final line read: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO (66 pitches / 38 strikes)
His ERA was a robust 5.40 prior to Game 4, but dipped to 4.35 after his outing Sunday. More importantly for the Red Sox, the series is now guaranteed to end in Boston.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL mobile app. You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and notes.