Bonine, Buchholz duel in shutout starts
Starters scatter five hits over 17 scoreless innings
If a starting pitcher throws eight innings or more without surrendering a run, chances are he's done well enough to earn a win, most of the time.
This was not the case for Eddie Bonine on Wednesday, nor for Clay Buchholz.
Bonine (0-0) held the Pawtucket Red Sox to one hit without walking a single batter through nine innings, and Buchholz (2-0) surrendered four hits over eight scoreless frames, also without allowing a walk. Bonine's Toledo Mud Hens won, 1-0, on a Will Rhymes single in 10 innings at Fifth Third Field, and both starters had to settle for a no-decision.
"I think with two pitchers throwing games like that, you feed off of each other a little bit," Bonine said. "It gives you a some extra motivation to go out there and keep putting up zeroes. I wouldn't say this was frustrating for me."
Pawtucket's lone hit, a single, came in the second inning when Dusty Brown ripped a ground ball up the middle. Bonine was clearly unfazed.
"It didn't really bother me that I gave up the hit early on," he said. "I feel like I've got good stuff, but I don't feel like I'm unhittable. It's kind of funny now, when you look back and see it was the only hit and it was in the second."
Bonine joined the Mud Hens on April 27 after struggling through four relief appearances with the Tigers early in the season.
"I'm getting more and more comfortable as a starting pitcher. My secondary pitches are feeling pretty good. [Wednesday] I got to mix things up early in the count a lot and keep the hitters off balance."
However, Bonine is certain he would have allowed more hits had it not been for stellar fielding behind him.
"I had some great defense behind me all game. There were a lot of plays up the middle [on balls] that would have been hits. All of the infielders were great. [Pawtucket's Sean] Danielson runs pretty well, and they made some solid plays to get him out."
With two outs in the fifth, Pawtucket's Travis Denker belted a long fly ball down the right field line. Bonine admitted he was worried when the ball left the bat, but was relieved to see right fielder Brent Clevlen make an outstanding catch.
"Cleve made a great play. I don't know whether it would have been fair or foul, but it was a great play."
The 27-year-old right-hander was replaced by Casey Fien, who threw a perfect 10th.
Bonine, who ironically began the 2008 season with eight straight wins, has yet to earn a decision despite a 1.88 ERA in four Triple-A starts.
"I don't get that caught up in [earning a win]," said Bonine. "My goal is always just to give my team the best chance to win, and whether I personally get a decision isn't the most important thing to me."
"If the W's come, great, but that's not the most important thing on my mind. Last year, the team was scoring a lot of runs, and I benefited from that. That was great, but my job as a starting pitcher is to give my team the best chance to win."
Buchholz, who fanned 11 over the course of the game and was just as impressive, began his outing by striking out the side in the first.
After allowing a leadoff double to Toledo's Mike Hessman, Buchholz worked out of the second and coasted until Hessman slapped a two-out single off him in the fourth.
Toledo's Will Rhymes singled and stole second base with one out in the fifth, but Buchholz shut down the Mud Hens' chance for a rally.
"[When] we got the guy to second], I was in a little rhythm," said Bonine. "I was thinking I could go out there and do my best. I thought if we could get something going there, I could probably hold them to one or two runs for the rest of the game. But [Buchholz] was throwing really well, and we couldn't get anything across."
Including Wednesday's outing, Buchholz has thrown 20 1/3 scoreless innings over his most recent three starts, fanning 25 along the way.
"Our hitters were up there battling their butts off," Bonine said. "They faced a lot of really tough pitches."
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.