Sometimes the only way to get through one of Clay Buchholz’s outings, is if someone hides the remote in some unreachable narnia (the workout room could do), and props your eyelids open with clothespins.
But if you’re a true masochist, like me, then you sat through every minute of Thursday night’s game, one that saw Buchholz give up five runs on eight hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings, dragging the Sox to a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
And if facing the league’s worst offense meant tempering excitement for David Price’s 14 strikeout gem on Tuesday, then shouldn’t fans be especially disappointed with Clay’s performance last night?
Often times, Buchholz’s mound more closely resembles Bane’s prison pit in “The Dark Knight Rises.” His preference for struggle that of Bruce Wayne’s, and his determination to make you suffer through it that of Bane himself:
Buchholz is the polar opposite of the “stopper” in a starting rotation — the guy you can count on to stop the bleeding and end the losing skid.
No, Buchholz is the one you can always count on to end the winning streak. He keeps you honest, he keeps you in check. Whenever you start to believe that the Red Sox may go off on an extended run of success, Clay comes through the fog with another stinker to make sure you never get quite too high.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 23, 2016
Though, for a Boston fanbase that is prone to emotional overreaction and/or crisis, Buchholz may actually be necessary.
Buchholz threw 104 pitches Thursday night, with barely 60 percent thrown for strikes. His one clean inning was the third, but the rest were loaded with Atlanta’s mostly no-name hitters running around the bases.
For too long, the conversation around Clay has been that he’s a number two or three starter, with the occasional flash of being an ace.
But the reality for the 31-year-old, ever-snarling enigma, is that he’s really a fifth starter, that sometimes pulls a rabbit out of the hat and looks like a fourth.
Clay Buchholz trying to make it five wins in a row for the Red Sox tonight. pic.twitter.com/tDpcfmHffE
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) April 28, 2016
In fairness, outside of Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia, the Boston offense didn’t do much Thursday night, as the Red Sox stranded six men in scoring position, and nine men on-base overall.
Sometimes three runs needs to be enough to win a game, but Buchholz never makes things quite that simple. He’s now 0-3 on the season, while sporting an ugly 6.51 ERA and 1.59 WHIP.
Boston fans and ownership have long seemed married to the ideal rather than the reality with Buchholz, so it’s likely his spot in the rotation will be in no real jeopardy once Joe Kelly or someone in Pawtucket is ready.
But (inconsistent) consistency has always been one of Buchholz’s underrated qualities, so we can probably just wait for him to sleep on his arm wrong, and wind up on the 60-day-disabled list.
Or maybe he should take a page out of Steve Wright’s book, the superior 31-year-old on the staff, and pick up the knuckleball.
In the end, when Bane tells Batman: “There can be no true despair without hope,” it makes me believe that Buchholz is a true Red Sox, for any fan that can remember a time before the attitude-adjusting 2004 World Series Championship.
Sox fans will let hope guide them again next Wednesday, when Buchholz is slated to toe the rubber in Chicago against the White Sox, currently the best team in the American League.