Game Day Notes: Rotation key to Sox success

Game Day Notes: Rotation key to Sox success
September 1, 2013, 12:45 am
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(AP Images)

BOSTON – The last two Septembers have been disastrous for the Red Sox. While 2012 was disastrous from start to finish, 2011 fell apart as the starting pitching fell apart.
 
This year they head into September with a record of 81-56, the most wins in the American League. Much of their recent success has been because of their starting pitching.
 
Sox starters have given up three or fewer runs in 11 straight games for the first time since an 11-game stretch from April 12-25, 1988. According to Elias, the team’s last longer such streak was a 12-gamer from Aug. 3-16, 1915. The Sox have given up just 22 runs in that 11-game stretch, spanning 97 2/3 innings, for an ERA of 2.03 ERA.
 
Sox pitchers have not allowed more than eight hits in any of these last 11 games. They are the first team to hold opponents to three runs or fewer and eight hits or fewer in 11 straight games since the Blue Jays did so in 12 games from June 29 – July 13, 1991.
 
In the last 11 games, Sox starters have posted an ERA of 2.15, giving up 19 earned runs in 79 2/3 innings.
 
“One, it means the game is under control,” said manager John Farrell. “Every time we bring a reliever to the mound he’s rested and typically you’re going to get better performance out of those guys as a result of not being over used. The stretch we’re on, we walk on the field with a lot of confidence knowing the game is going to be under control from the start.
 
“I think it sets the tone for our team. The feeling in the clubhouse is not only shared by the guys in starting rotation.”
 
* Infielder John McDonald, whom the Sox acquired in a trade on Saturday with the Phillies for minor league right-hander Nefi Oganda, is expected to be at Fenway Park on Sunday.
 
“He’s a premium defender at all three positions and he’ll serve as depth particularly in the middle infield and he can also play third base,” Farrell said. “But we felt like even though we put Will [Middlebrooks] at second a couple of times, if there were something to happen unforeseen, we have someone not only tested but seasoned at second base as well.
 
“We’ve been looking out for this type of player. [Third base coach Brian Butterfield] has a lot of history with him as well. He’ll fit in very well with this team right now.”
 
* Felix Doubront is scheduled to make his 25 start of the season on Sunday. In three career starts against the White Sox he is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA, giving up six earned runs over 18 innings. He last faced the White Sox in Chicago on May 21, taking the loss despite giving up just two runs on five hits and two walks in six innings.

* Clay Buchholz made his second rehab start Friday, going 3 1/3 innings for Pawtucket. He threw 53 pitches, 34 strikes, giving up one run on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts. Buchholz is scheduled for one more rehab start Wednesday with Pawtucket. After that, the Sox will reevaluate his status. He is expected to throw about 70 pitches then.

* David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-23 slide with a two-run single on Friday. On Saturday he went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He is now four hits shy of 2000 for his career. He has reached base in five of his last seven plate appearances.

* Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-3 with a walk, RBI, and run scored Saturday night. At 20 years and 334 days old, he is the youngest Red Sox player to drive in a run, score a run, and reach base at least three times in a game since Tony Conigliaro (10 times) and Tony Horton (three times) did it in 1965.

* Shane Victorino has multiple hits in five of his last six games, batting .500, going 12-for-24, in that stretch with two doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI, two walks, getting hit by a pitch, and a sacrifice hit. He has at least two hits in nine of his last 13 games, with a .434 AVG (23-for-53), five doubles, five homers, and 14 RBI in that stretch. He finished the month of August with a .328 average, going 38-for-116, with eight doubles, a team-high 7 home runs, and 22 RBI.

* David Ross went 2-for-3 with double, a bunt single, and a walk. It is marks his second multi-hit game of the year. (He had four hits on April 26 against the Astros.)
 
“When you’re batting a buck-seventy, you run really hard when you think you’re getting a hit,” Ross joked about his bunt single.
 
* Mike Napoli is 8-for-24, batting .333, with two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, and three walks in his last six games, all Sox wins. The rest he’s gotten may have helped, Farrell said. Napoli had been dealing with plantar fasciitis.
 
“I think that has something to do with it,” Farrell said. “The foot issue he was dealing with has subsided somewhat It’s not a hindrance to him.”