09/02/07 4:09 AM ET
Buchholz's no-no only adds to hype
Will Red Sox use milestone outing to vault into postseason?
Wilson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter for the White Sox in his second big league start on Aug. 11, 1991 -- against, naturally, these same Orioles -- and went on to log a decent career. The left-hander earned 101 more wins, and was still active in 2005.Yet, flashes in the pan are common, and serve to caution both Buchholz and those Red Sox Nation citizens hung over from the nectar of young promise fulfilled to excess. Rookie Anibal Sanchez authored last season's only no-hitter Sept. 6 against Arizona, added three more wins in September and two this April before being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum. Joe Cowley had a decent run prior to his 1986 no-hitter against the Angels, but the White Sox righty never won another game. Oakland right-hander Mike Warren's 1983 no-hitter against the White Sox was merely the middle victory of a nine-win career. Bud Smith punctuated his strong rookie season for the 2001 Cardinals with a Sept. 3 no-hitter against the Padres, and the following season won one and was done. The pratfalls for the aforementioned, and others like them, varied. Some things are beyond the controls of even a person blessed with early glory. Others are not. "I hope I won't let my head get big," Buchholz said simply in his finest hour, "and remember that it's not that easy every time out." He had made it look remarkably easy (well, except on those occasions when only the flash of Coco Crisp's legs or Dustin Pedroia's leather kept the dream alive), considering he had never pitched so late. Indeed, Buchholz's biggest hope is that Terry Francona and his pitching coach, John Farrell, didn't commit the mistake that one suspects may have contributed to the shortened careers of other early no-hit artists: Getting caught up in -- and misled -- by the moment. The Boston organization has obviously been very protective of Buchholz's valuable arm. In 24 Minor League starts this season, he had never pitched beyond the seventh inning. When he made his big league debut in the Aug. 17 start against the Angels, he was under a strict pitch count and left after six innings and 91 deliveries. Saturday night, his leash was lengthened to 115 pitches. No. 115 was a breathtaking breaking pitch taken by Nick Markakis for the third strike that triggered the Fenway Park revelry. A couple of weeks earlier, only a few days past his 23rd birthday, Buchholz had said of his Boston introduction, "It was all I imagined it to be. I'll never forget it. And I hope to use the experience to come back in September and help out." September arrived, and along with it came Buchholz, this time with an evening no one will forget.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.