BOSTON — Back in July, Clay Buchholz tried to envision October.

“I felt in my mind I’d be on the mound in a deciding game,” Buchholz said. “It was a little far-fetched at one point this year.”

Farfetched? Buchholz was 3-10 with a 6.10 ERA in mid-July.

“Everyone goes through some struggles at some point,” Buchholz said. “Mine were a little more extreme … But I’m still here.”

Buchholz, once banished to the bullpen, is now the starter Boston so desperately needs to pitch well in Game 3 of the American League division series, with the Red Sox facing elimination.

Since July 25, Buchholz has recorded a 2.80 ERA.


“He’s had a resurgence of this own this season,” Mmanager John Farrell said. “He worked out some issues going to the bullpen and has returned pitching some of the best baseball, I think, in his career.”

In the bullpen, Buchholz simplified his delivery, ditching the windup and going exclusively with the stretch.

Besides his comeback, Buchholz also pitched well in the postseason, dating back to his playoff debut – starting Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS with Boston trailing the Angels two games to none.

Buchholz pitched well enough (five innings, two runs), but closer Jonathan Papelbon blew the save and Boston lost.

In five postseason starts, Buchholz has allowed three runs or less in four of them.

Farrell is obviously rooting for Buchholz and normally Indians (and former Red Sox) Manager Terry Francona would be, too.


“I’ve known him since he was a pup. He’s one of my favorite guys,” Francona said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to beat his brains out.”

JOSH TOMLIN had a horrible August for the Cleveland Indians, getting shelled in five of six starts. His ERA jumped from 3.43 to 4.89.

“My stuff is not overpowering so when I’m not executing a pitch, it can be hit a long way,” Tomlin said.

The one solid outing in August was against the Red Sox. Tomlin allowed three runs over 72/3 innings, in a 3-2 loss.

Still, Tomlin was removed from the rotation for two weeks in September.

“It gave him a chance to dig in and figure (things) out,” Francona said.


Tomlin went back to emphasizing command of his 88 mph fastball, mixing in cut fastballs and curveballs, with an occasional change-up.

He returned to the rotation and rolled in his last four starts (20 hits, five earned runs).

“He’s been the guy we (saw) last year when he was one of the better pitchers in the American League,” Francona said.

Tomlin, 31, who is making his first postseason appearance, will be facing an old teammate. He and Buchholz played for Angelina Junior College in Texas in 2005.

FRANCONA IS managing a playoff game at Fenway Park for the first time since 2009, when he was the Red Sox skipper in that ALDS loss to the Angels. Boston just missed the 2011 playoffs after a collapse in September, prompting Francona’s departure.

If Francona has any extra feeling about wanting to beat the Red Sox, he kept them to himself.


“We don’t have time to make things personal,” he said.

“It needs to be all about the players, always, regardless of what my feelings may or may not be.”

TRAILING BY two games to the Cleveland Indians in the playoffs is nothing new to Boston.

Three times in the past 21 years the Red Sox needed to sweep three games to win a series against Cleveland. They were successful twice.

It didn’t happen in the 1995 ALDS. After losing two games in Cleveland, Boston was eliminated 8-2 in Game 3, with Tim Wakefield the losing pitcher.

In the 1999 ALDS, the Red Sox dropped two in Cleveland, won a pair in Boston – including a 23-7 victory in Game 4 – then won a dramatic Game 5 – 12-8 with Pedro Martinez pitching six no-hit innings in relief.

In the 2007 American League Championship Series, Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. But Boston swept the final three games, scoring 30 runs while the pitching allowed five runs, led by starters Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

In other ALDS history, the Red Sox have recovered from a 0-2 start one other time, rallying to win three straight against Oakland in 2003.


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