Perhaps the best way to describe Kyle Weiland’s performance on Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium is to call it Buchholz-like.
(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
More specifically, the 2007 version of Clay Buchholz when he didn’t worry about low pitch counts and tried to strike everybody out. That season at the minor league level, Buchholz finished with 171 strikeouts in 125.1 IP between Portland and Pawtucket– an astonishing 12.3 K per 9 innings pitched. On September 1st of that year, Clay threw a no-hitter against Baltimore in his second major league start.
Weiland began Wednesday’s start against Rochester by striking out Brandon Roberts on three pitches – the first of a career-high 12 Ks. In the first three innings, the 24-year-old righty whiffed five batters and did not allow a ball to hit out of the infield.
On the radio, I said that Weiland appeared to have “diabolical stuff.” In the dugout, Kyle’s teammates and coaches began to think a no-hitter was possible.
“I thought about it, but there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t say anything so I didn’t,” said pitching coach Rich Sauveur.
Weiland did not allow a hit until their were two outs in the 6th inning when a ground ball by Dustin Martin ricocheted off the glove of diving second baseball Brent Dlugach and rolled into shallow center field. The single scored Danny Lehman who had been hit by a curve ball (making little effort to get out of the way) and moved to second base on a passed ball.
That was the only hit that Weiland allowed in 8 innings in a 4-1 win over the Red Wings.
“It’s very tough to match a Buchholz gem, but it was very close – no doubt about it,” Sauveur said. “He was dominating. We always talk about fastball command – if you have that your secondary pitches will be enhanced and he had everything working.”
Weiland threw 70 of his 99 pitches for strikes and hit 94 mph on the radar gun. Four of his strikeouts came on just 3 pitches, and a breakdown of his 12 Ks shows how well Kyle used his entire repertoire.
Curveballs – 5 strikeouts
Cutters – 3 strikeouts
Changeups – 2 strikeouts
Fastballs – 2 strikeouts
“He was outstanding from pitch one to pitch 99,” Sauveur said. “He has really good stuff. I’ve said all along that he will pitch in the big leagues and he’s going to have a nice career ahead of him.”
I’m not going to suggest that Weiland will be as good as Clay Buchholz who is 35-24 with a 3.64 ERA at the major league level.
But he sure looked like him on Wednesday night.
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Prior to Wednesday’s game, the PawSox unveiled Mondor Gardens– a tribute to team owner Ben Mondor who passed away last October.
Mondor Gardens is located near the McCoy Stadium ticket office and features six bronze statues of children playing baseball in a beautifully landscaped area with trees, plants, flowers, and park benches.
“Ben bought these six statues and said, ‘We’ve got to find a special place at the stadium for these.’” said PawSox president Mike Tamburro. “We were building this walkway near the ticket office and every day he would say to me, ‘When is that walkway going to get done because I want to put these statues somewhere.’ Well, we just thought the perfect tribute would be Mondor Gardens. It’s in a great area here, and these kids playing baseball in a park setting is a great tribute. I think that fans are going to love it.”
Almost from the day that Ben passed away, people began speculating about how the PawSox would pay tribute to his legacy.
“I knew that this is something that he truly wanted more than anything else,” Tamburro said. “He’s been talking about a park setting at McCoy for probably 15 years. I can absolutely see him sitting here at 5 o’clock before a ballgame waiting for the fans to come in and talk. You know what? Maybe he is sitting here right now.”
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The PawSox will look for their fourth straight win on Thursday as they host Rochester at 7:05. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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