Another solid outing from Aaron Cook

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Another solid outing from Aaron Cook

BOSTON -- When Aaron Cooks sinker is doing what its supposed to do, Mondays performance against the White Sox is a pretty textbook result.

Cook went seven innings, allowing one run (unearned) on five hits with no walks and no strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches, 66 for strikes, lowering his ERA more than a run, from 4.37 to 3.34. Fifteen of the 21 outs Cook recorded came on ground balls.

But Cook wasnt around to earn the win. He left with the score tied, 1-1. Adrian Gonzalez three-run homer in the eighth off White Sox reliever Leyson Septimo gave the win to Vicente Padilla, who relieved Cook.

I wish that Cookie was still in the game to get the win because he deserved it, said manager Bobby Valentine. He cramped up a little after the seventh inning there and did a heckuva job, though. Got his ground balls, got his quick outs.

Cook got at least two groundball outs in every inning but the seventh, his last, when the White Sox had two fly outs and one grounder on Cooks last batter of the game.

Well, thats what he does, Valentine said. When you have that sinker you pitch to contact and hes not going to walk anyone. Very few guys are going to get on with a free pass. I know hes going to pound that zone with a pitch that moves down and to try to get them to hit the top of the ball. You saw in the seventh inning they hit the bottom of the ball a couple times and thats a sign. But he had a really good sinker tonight. And his other pitches were pretty good too except for the one he threw to A.J. Pierzynski second-inning single to right there, kind of curveball didnt work very well.

Cooks pace, along with that of White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod, was a major factor in the crisp, 2-hour, 40-minute pace.

I was able to get in a good rhythm and pound the ball in the strike zone with my sinker, Cook said. I knew they were going to be an aggressive team. I had a chance to face them a lot in spring training when I was in Arizona with the Rockies so I knew a lot of their hitters and me and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia really got on a good page and another game, no strikeouts, my defense played great behind me.

Actually the pace tonight was pretty much where I wanted it to be. It was pretty hot and humid out there and working a little bit slower. I really like to get the ball, get on the mound, kind of typical of like Mark Buehrle would do, just pound the strike zone and try to get the hitters unconformable. I kind of joked around that I have a two-hour attention span so I like to get it over with quick.

Since returning from the disabled list on June 24 against the Braves, Cook has a 1.67 ERA, allowing five earned runs over 27 innings.

Holding the White Sox to no walks gives him a tremendous advantage, Cook said.

I think thats the thing you kind of learn as youre coming up--make your pitch in the strike zone and get the hitters swinging the bat, he said. I was working really good at keeping the ball off the barrel of their bat today and when I can do that I can be successful.

The White Sox scored their lone run in the first inning. With lefthander Adam Dunn batting, and Kevin Youkilis on first base with a single, the Red Sox employed the infield shift. On Dunns groundout to Pedro Ciriaco at second base, Youkilis took second . But with Will Middlebrooks still off third, Youkilis broke for third. Gonzalezs errant throw to Middlebrooks sailed into left field, allowing Youkilis to come home, scoring an unearned run off Cook.

Kind of the way it all happened it was kind of weird but we were able to rebound late in the game and come back and score runs and as long as we win thats all that matters, Cook said.

Youkilis went 3-for-3 with a run scored off Cook, a harkening back to their high school days in the Cincinnati area.

We were on the same traveling team for three years -- 13, 14 and 15 -- and then we played against each other all through high school, Cook said. So today is pretty typical of what hes done off me the whole way through. I was just happy to keep him in the ballpark. In high school he hit a couple of homers off me.

In his five starts with the Sox, spanning 29 23 innings, Cook has recorded just two strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-2 in those outings, while the Sox are 3-2.

He is the first Sox pitcher with multiple starts of five innings or more with no walks and no strikeouts since Bob Stanley did it twice in 1979. He is the first pitcher to do so twice in one season at Fenway since Ted Wingfield in 1925.

Cook is the third Sox pitcher since 1918 to strike out two or fewer while walking one or fewer in five consecutive games, joining Bill Lee (six in 1975 and 77) and Jack Russell (five, twice in 1929).

He looks at those numbers as a kind of honor.

Me and Josh Beckett kind of joke, Cook said. Hes got a streak of 200-some games consecutive with the strikeout and Im going to go in the other direction, see if I can get 200 without one.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON - There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.