Buchanan Battles in Return to Lehigh Valley

The last time David Buchanan pitched in a game, it wasn't pretty. He was on the mound at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks and was hit around at an historic pace by the Diamondbacks. The outing resulted in his return to Triple-A. In his first start for Lehigh Valley, the right-hander wasn't great, but he wasn't horrible, either.

This was supposed to be the season that David Buchanan established himself as a major league starting pitcher. That hasn't happened. His last time on the mound, the Diamondbacks hit him for 11 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Actually, he threw a scoreless first and was then pounded for all 11 runs in the second inning.

Sunday represented his first time back on the mound since the shelling, but this time around, he was pitching for Lehigh Valley against Pawtucket. All eyes were on Buchanan to see how he would respond.

Like Arizona did in that second inning, the Paw Sox came out swinging. Deven Marrero singled on the second pitch that he saw, and Quintin Berry singled on Buchanan's first pitch to him to put runners on first and third. Carlos Rivero waited until the third pitch and wound up hitting into a double-play that scored Marrero from third. Six pitches in and Buchanan had allowed a run, but now had two outs and bases empty. Unfortunately for Buchanan, Allen Craig jumped on Buchanan's first offering and doubled to right field, but Buchanan came back to get Chris Marrero to pop-out to end the inning.

Pawtucket's Marco Hernandez launched his third home run of the season in the top of the fourth to put the Red Sox up 2-1 at the time. Through five innings, Buchanan had thrown 72 pitches, but fell apart in the sixth. His first nine pitches were balls as he walked Rivero and Craig and went 0-1 on Chris Marrero, who eventually flied out to left. Sandy Leon then doubled to score a run and Buchanan's day was over. Buchanan's wilting in the sixth could have had something to do with the 95-degree heat and high humidity.

Dalier Hinojosa kept Buchanan's record from getting any worse, by getting the final two outs of the inning without allowing a run to score.

On the day, Buchanan threw 92 pitches, 51 of which were strikes. He left a few balls up in the zone and got away with it, but Hernandez took advantage of one and drove it out. Over 5 1/3 innings, Buchanan allowed six hits and walked three batters, while striking out two.

Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage thought the outing was "just ok," but thinks it was a step in the right direction for Buchanan to put the Arizona outing in the past.

"There's going to be some residuals; how many times in his life has he given up 11 runs? Probably one," Brundage said. "There's going to be some residuals and that's kind of what you see sometimes. But he's a battler and he's going to compete and work hard."

The Phillies will need a fifth starter Saturday against Miami, but odds are that it won't be Buchanan. Perhaps if he would have had a stellar outing, there might be some thought. Instead, it will likely be either Severino Gonzalez, who has made seven starts for the Phillies and has a 7.92 ERA or Jerad Eickhoff, who came to the Phillies organization in the Cole Hamels deal with Texas. Eickhoff has made three starts for Lehigh Valley and is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and dominated Pawtucket on Saturday. On the season, Eickhoff is a combined 12-5, 3.85 with Double-A Frisco (two starts), and Triple-A Round Rock (17 starts) and Lehigh Valley. Eickhoff had to be added to the 40-man roster when he was acquired, so the Phillies wouldn't need to clear room for him there.

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