The Red Sox have won two of the first three games of this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays, doubling their win total for the season. Yes, that is kind of sad to write on April 18, but, let’s remember that they are just five games out of first (and 2.5 games out of second) as well–there is plenty of time to catch up, given a small gap such as that.
That statement is even more true if the starting pitching is back to where it should be. Boston lost on Friday night, in part because Clay Buchholz had uncharacteristic trouble with his command (five walks in five innings against three strikeouts), but, on the bright side, he kept the ball in the park, scattering three hits and giving up zero homers–he was responsible for just three of the seven runs allowed that night.
Josh Beckett once again dominated in his third start of the year–this is what happens when he has his curveball working for him, as I mentioned last Monday and Matt pointed out following that start. Beckett struck out nine Jays, walking just two, allowed one run, and also avoided the long ball. In his 20 innings, Beckett has struck out 10.4 per nine, walked 3.2 per nine, and has a 1.80 Run Average–that RA is going to climb, of course, but if he can punch out a batter per inning and stick around his career walk rate, Boston won’t have any trouble in his starts–as long as he stays healthy.
On Sunday, the Red Sox scored more runs in support of Jon Lester than they have scored in his other three starts combined. He went six frames, giving up one run, struck out five against three free passes, and had the bullpen hold the Jays scoreless the rest of the way to secure the his first W of the year.
Buchholz is obviously still trying to figure things out, but not giving up any homers–he had already allowed more than half of last season’s total over his first two starts–is a positive sign. Beckett is showing that he feels good as of right now, and Lester, despite the 1-1 record, has pitched like you expect him to in the early going. This, hopefully, is a good sign going forward, though there are still two pitchers to worry about.
One of those, Daisuke Matsuzaka, is coming off of a start that saw all of Red Sox Nation turn on him. He needs to pitch well in today’s Patriot’s Day contest, or else his tenuous grasp on a job will slip even further. John Lackey gets to go for his first deserved win of the year on Tuesday against the Athletics out in Oakland, as well, so if these two can get through their starts relatively unscathed, maybe New England’s collective blood pressure can drop from its dangerous high.