ST. LOUIS — We need a prop for Clay Buchholz.

Curt Schilling had his bloody sock, after all.

But what can demonstrate Buchholz’s ability to take the Busch Stadium mound Sunday night with a tired arm.

Tired arm? It just doesn’t have the same courageous feel to it, compared to Schilling getting a tendon in his ankle reattached, with just enough blood to seep through his sock.

Schilling, of course, made his dramatic appearances in two postseason games, in the 2004 ALCS and World Series. His determination is one reason why the Red Sox hoisted the World Series trophy.

Now Boston turns to Buchholz. He started the season lights out, then missed three months because of bursitis in his shoulder. He’s back, but he is not the same pitcher.

Even so, Buchholz is scheduled to get the ball in Game 4.

“We go into (Sunday) thinking he’s going to give us what he’s been in the postseason,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “That might be a little bit shorter than maybe what we’ve seen back in April and May. But he’s also been very effective. And we’re fully anticipating that to be the case (Sunday).”

‘Very effective’ is subjective. In three playoff games, he has no decisions and a 5.39 ERA.

The fact that Boston won both his starts against the Tigers is encouraging, although David Ortiz’s grand slam helped in Game 2.

In Game 6, Buchholz gave up four hits and was charged with two runs over five-plus innings. He actually pitched five shutout innings and left in the sixth after the first two batters reached. Reliever Franklin Morales allowed both to score.

Most of the damage done to Buchholz has been after the fifth inning, or when he faces the batting order for the third time.

Asked if he would settle for five innings and two runs on Sunday, Buchholz said, “I’d absolutely take five and two, but obviously you want to go nine and nothing.”

But that is not realistic.

“The ball is not really coming out of my hands like it did in spring training or the beginning of the season,” he said.

Buchholz briefly threw in the bullpen Saturday.

“Overall, everything went good. A little bit of rust,” Buchholz said.

But Chris Singleton, the former major league outfielder who is now an ESPN analyst, tweeted Saturday: “Just watched Clay Buchholz throw in the bullpen. Didn’t look good. Hard to see him starting Sunday night.”

Farrell said the Red Sox briefly considered pitching Jon Lester in Game 4 on three days’ rest.

“There was some conversation,” Farrell said, “but history shows that has not been successful. From a broader perspective, the last 6-7 weeks, (Lester) has pitched on five days’ rest. He pitched Game 5 against Detroit on four days’ rest and he had different stuff. It was noticeable.”

Felix Doubront could be ready to pitch multiple innings if he isn’t used Saturday night.

“I still have my strength to go five or six innings,” Doubront said. “I’ve stayed sharp and ready.”

Given the way Buchholz has tired quickly, Farrell is not expected to stay with him long.

“I’m sure there’s going to be people talking to me each time I leave the field,” Buchholz said. “It’s tough to take yourself out of a game. I’ve never done that before.

“But with this scenario, I’m going to tell them the truth. It’s not going to be one of those times where you might be feeling tired, but still telling everybody that you’re good to go.”

So Buchholz is going to give it a shot. No bloody sock, but plenty of concern.

“Whatever he’s capable of,” Farrell said, “he feels like he’ll be ready to give it.”

Just what is Buchholz still capable of? A World Series title may ride on the answer.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:[email protected]Twitter: ClearTheBases

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