Buchholz grateful for Varitek's guidance
Red Sox captain lights the way, catching his third no-hitter
BOSTON -- Even in the afterglow of making history as the first rookie Red Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter Saturday, Clay Buchholz made sure to credit someone who has seen this type of thing before.
"[He had] just an incredible role," Buchholz said of his catcher, Red Sox captain Jason Varitek. "The way he breaks down each hitter and the way that we go over them before the game, it's unlike anything that I have ever seen before, how much pride and passion he takes in everything that he does."
Varitek has caught each of the club's last three no-hitters, the only such active catcher in the game to accomplish that feat. Varitek was also behind the plate for Derek Lowe's gem on April 27, 2002, also a 10-0 Red Sox rout, and April 4, 2001, when Hideo Nomo turned the trick, also against the Orioles.
Varitek is fond of saying, "I just drop the fingers, they [pitchers] are the ones who have to make the pitches." Saturday night was no different.
"[Buchholz] did an excellent job," Varitek said. "He established his fastball early and took awhile before they got a look at his other stuff and stayed aggressive. He did a phenomenal job. The bullpen needed it after [Friday] and just, it was great."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona has always known what the captain has meant to his pitching staff's preparation.
"I know Clay's name will be in the record books," Francona said. "I hope Jason's right under it, because he deserves it. They were huddled in front of his locker [before the game]. Jason puts a lot into it, a lot of care."
Varitek had the best view on the field for many of the spectacular plays that made Saturday night special.
"[Dustin] Pedroia [made a] great play up the middle [in the seventh] and then Buchholz stabbed that one [in the eighth]," Varitek said. "It seems to happen. You need to have some favor defensively for that to happen through nine innings. But [Buchholz] did such a phenomenal job."
For someone who's been on the field for American League Championship Series and World Series celebrations in 2004, Varitek could sense something special as the final three innings approached.
"I think it started a little earlier," he said. "I wouldn't call it pressure, but you don't want to put something down that is completely different. You want to keep trying [to] think ahead and do things. [Buchholz] still ultimately has to make the pitches, and he did. I think it was all set up by his fastball complementing his three other offspeed pitches."
In just his second big league start, Buchholz gained new appreciation of just how important Varitek has become over his 10-plus years in the Red Sox organization.
"Back there, when he calls the game, you can see him thinking ... 'What pitch do you want to throw?' and you don't come across guys that often that make the game easier while they are playing. He is just a great [tribute] to what happened tonight, and I am glad to say that I got to throw to Jason Varitek."
Mike Petraglia is contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.