Clay Buchholz becomes the first rookie
to throw a no-hitter at Fenway Park

CLAY BUCHHOLZ

ON THIS DATE (September 1, 2007) ... Fifteen days after making his major league debut against the Angels in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, a day that began with manager Terry Francona telling a sleepy morning assemblage of reporters that "[it] doesn't matter if he throws a no-hitter, he's going back down," 23-year-old Clay Buchholz made Francona an accidental prophet of sorts with the 17th no-hitter in franchise history and 20th by a rookie in major league history in a 10-0 win over the Orioles. The sellout crowd of 36,819 made the rafters of old Fens vibrate with sound while Buchholz's teammates hung on the railing until umpire Joe West signaled that the 115th pitch from Buchholz, a backup curveball, was strike three on Markakis.

Coco Crisp ran down two line drives by Corey Patterson, one in the sixth when he was in right-center and caught up with it in left-center, then again for the second out in the ninth, after Brian Roberts had struck out to start the inning. After walking the first two batters in the fourth, prompting a visit from pitching coach John Farrell, Buchholz set down the minimum number of Orioles.

In two major league starts, Buchholz, who hails from Nederland (sounds like Neverland), Texas, already has more no-hitters than Pedro Martinez. When Martinez signed with the New York Mets, it presented the Sox with the sandwich-round draft pick they used in 2005 to choose Buchholz, a converted shortstop from Angelina (Texas) Junior College. He also has more no-hitters than Curt Schilling, the 40-year-old who, on June 7, came within one out of a no-no in Oakland, and 41-year-old Tim Wakefield, whose stiff back presented Buchholz with the opportunity to start last night.

It was the first no-hitter by a Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe no-hit Tampa Bay at Fenway Park April 27, 2002. The last no-no by a rookie was by Anibal Sanchez, the former Sox prospect who did it Sept. 6, 2006, for Florida against Arizona. The last AL rookie to do so was Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox, also against Baltimore, Aug. 11, 1991.

No Sox rookie pitcher ever has thrown a no-hitter. Forty years ago, a kid pitcher from Toronto, lefthander Billy Rohr, came within an out of a no-hitter against the Yankees April 14 in Yankee Stadium, a single by Elston Howard spoiling his no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth. Last season, in the last day of the regular season, Oct. 1, Devern Hansack threw a five-inning no-hitter against the Orioles, a 9-0 game that was shortened by rain.

The Sox, who scored a run in the second inning, scored three more on Ortiz's bases-loaded double in the fourth off Orioles starter Garrett Olson. The Sox batted around again in the sixth, scoring four times on Mike Lowell's double and Kevin Youkilis's three-run home run, and twice more in the eighth, when Buchholz's roommate in Pawtucket, Jacoby Ellsbury, doubled home Pedroia and Lowell.

In the GM's booth, meanwhile, Epstein and McLeod were fretting about Buchholz's pitch count. The most pitches he had thrown in any start this season was 98, which is why Bryan Corey was warming up in the bullpen in the eighth. Buchholz was at 103 pitches after eight innings, helped immensely by Jay Payton's first-pitch swing on the comebacker Buchholz snared for the last out of the inning, a ball that Pedroia said he was in position to field had it gotten past the pitcher. It also helped that Buchholz, who walked three and hit a batter, picked off Roberts, who was loitering off the first base bag after drawing a walk to open the sixth.

Dustin Pedroia's seventh-inning backhand play on Miguel Tejada's shot up the middle - Pedroia capped the play with a great popup pivot and throw - will go down as the no-hit saver. And we'll always have the frozen frame of Joe West ringing up Nick Markakis on a game-ending 1-and-2 curveball.

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 W-Clay Buchholz (2-0)
L-Garrett Olson (1-3)
Attendance - 36,819

 2B-Ortiz (Bost), Lugo (Bost),
Lowell (Bost), Ellsbury (Bost)

 HR-Youkilis (Bost)