Shock of no-hitter sinks in for Buchholz
Well wishes stack up for rookie while sleep proves elusive
BOSTON -- And on the next day, Clay Buchholz walked into the home clubhouse at Fenway Park sleepless.
Yep, Buchholz was among the first employees of any capacity to arrive at Fenway on Sunday when he walked through the door some six hours before the 2:05 p.m. ET first pitch.
For a 23-year-old pitcher who threw a no-hitter in his second Major League start on Saturday night against the Orioles, the lack of shuteye was more than understandable.
"I did try," said Buchholz. "[I] laid down for maybe 10 minutes, [it] just didn't work out the way I thought it would. [I] sort of rolled with the punches, stayed awake and came in here about 8 o'clock this morning. I attempted to go to sleep probably at 4 o'clock -- didn't happen; [so I] went and got something to eat and came here. There's no reason for me to try to fall asleep because it's not going to happen. I'm running on fumes right now."
Buchholz had a quiet night of celebration and reflection, entertaining a couple of friends at the hotel he's staying at.
And yes, at one point, Buchholz's cellphone was in overdrive.
"I ended up turning my phone off," Buchholz said. "I know I had like 80-something text messages whenever I came in here after the game."
But before powering off the phone, Buchholz had one of the most satisfying conversations of his life. That, of course, was with his parents -- Skip and Robin Buchholz of Lumberton, Texas.
"[My dad] was sort of lost for words," Buchholz said of his dad. "One thing he had been waiting for was for me to just give him the call that I was coming up here to get a start, but I don't think he ever thought of me calling and saying that I had thrown a no-hitter. He was real excited about that. It's what all of them dreamed about as I made my way through the organization and coming up here. I don't think they ever thought they'd see a no-hitter on the second start. It is what it is, and they were glad for it to happen."
If not for a 10-pitch eighth inning by Buchholz -- which was aided by a first-pitch out by Jay Payton -- Saturday night's toughest call would have gone to Sox manager Terry Francona. Buchholz threw 92 pitches through seven and had 107 going into the final frame.
There was no way the Red Sox would allow him to go more than 120 pitches. His high on the season was 98.
Knowing how important Buchholz's future is to the Red Sox, Francona actually called up to general manager Theo Epstein's box following the seventh inning. Epstein told the manager to call him back after the eighth.
"Fortunately [Buchholz] was in pretty good shape," Francona said. "My concern was he'd be up around 110, 115 with a no-hitter getting into an area he has no business getting into. That was the concern. I kind of told Theo, 'you can come down and take him out. I was kidding, but I think you get the idea."
It would have been such a difficult and unpopular move to make that Francona even joked about having a long-trusted friend make the move for him.
"I can tell you that [bench coach Brad Mills] would have had a heck of a time taking him out because I don't think I really wanted to do it," quipped Francona.
Count Buchholz among those highly thankful it never came to that.
"I think it would have been a bad deal," Buchholz said. "Thankfully it didn't have to come to that point and I got out of it with less than 120 pitches. ... That was the so-called number I would have been coming out at. Adrenaline was rushing, and I felt I was throwing better in the eighth or ninth inning than the first five."
Naturally, Buchholz was mobbed by reporters the instant the clubhouse became open to the media on Sunday morning. He handled it well, and his teammates playfully kept him in his place.
"Don't be late for stretch," joked Curt Schilling.
Buchholz already sent a ball from the performance to the Hall of Fame and said that some other artifacts could be on the way to Cooperstown soon.
Even as Buchholz watched the constant highlights of his performance, he felt as if it was all still sinking in.
"I went out and saw a couple of recaps on it," Buchholz said. "I'm sort of still in a fantasy world right now. It was a great day for me, and hopefully [there's] more to come."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.