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Red Sox notebook

Tough to stop this rotation

Starters' outings have been a hit

Kevin Youkilis crosses the plate in the sixth after hitting his second homer of the night, which brought the Sox within 8-5. Kevin Youkilis crosses the plate in the sixth after hitting his second homer of the night, which brought the Sox within 8-5. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / May 8, 2008

DETROIT - This was not going to continue indefinitely, especially against a lineup like Detroit's, and it didn't.

Clay Buchholz gave up four runs on five hits in the third inning last night.

Still, the work by the Red Sox' starting pitching staff over the previous 10 games was exemplary: The rotation was 5-3 with a 1.69 ERA (13 earned runs in 69 1/3 innings) while giving up just 36 hits. That lowered the starters' ERA from 4.51 to 3.58, fourth in the league entering last night. Oakland was first with a 3.31 ERA, Tampa Bay second at 3.48, and the White Sox third at 3.54.

Sox starters had allowed the fewest hits (166), but were the only staff in triple figures in walks (102). The Orioles and Tigers were next at 92 apiece.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (27) and Jon Lester (26) have combined to walk more batters (47) than the Twins' starting staff (45).

With 159 whiffs, the Sox' starters were second to Tampa Bay's 165.

For Sox pitching coach John Farrell, the satisfaction extends beyond the results.

"You get to know each guy individually and see each one's progression," Farrell said before last night's 10-9 loss to the Tigers.

"From Tim Wakefield, who has pitched 18 years, he has to work on some things between starts to maintain his delivery, which he did, and then you see him take that into a game.

"You share on a much smaller level the performances they execute.

"To see Jon Lester continue to grow as a pitcher and to see it come together, and the resolve he has shown - he gives up a base hit and walk, then executes pitches on both sides of the plate - every pitcher has a plan they're working on. To see them execute them, you live through them vicariously each and every night."

Lester had mentioned that during a roll like this, a pitcher feels like he doesn't want to be the one to end it, much like a batter who doesn't want to be the one to make the rally-ending out.

"I think more than anything it becomes the expectation," Farrell said. "That expectation may be in the short run, but I think because the guy before you does it, you gain confidence. You say, 'If I make pitches, I can dominate.' On the flip side, you get knocked around, it's, 'What do I have to do differently?'

"More than anything, it's the added element of confidence as each guy does well. I think, particularly the young guys, when they start feeling they belong, the quiet confidence they have as they go about their work, it's not only a sign of maturity but a sign they're establishing themselves at this level."

Don't even try to guess who the Sox will pull from the rotation when (if?) Bartolo Colon is ready. They haven't decided; they prefer to see what happens.

Oldies but goodies

Wakefield's reaction to the news that he and Mike Timlin were the oldest pitchers in modern big league history (post-1900) to combine for a shutout in Boston's 5-0 win Tuesday night?

He twirled his finger. "Whoopee," he said, smiling.

Wakefield was 41 years 278 days. Timlin was 42 years 57 days. No pair of 40-somethings had ever combined to throw a shutout, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The appearance was No. 1,022 for Timlin, tying Jose Mesa and Lee Smith for eighth all time.

The shutout was Boston's fourth of the season, tying San Francisco for most in the majors.

Gearing up

Alex Cora went 2 for 4 while playing seven innings at second base for Pawtucket last night. He's scheduled to play again tonight, along with Sean Casey. They are both on short rehab assignments and expected to be activated Sunday . . . Jed Lowrie got the start last night at second base; Dustin Pedroia had one hit in nine trips in the first two games here and is batting .204 (9 for 44) in his last 10 games. Terry Francona called it a day off for Pedroia, but he entered the game in the eighth and had a pinch single that scored J.D. Drew to put the Sox ahead, 9-8 . . . Curt Schilling is scheduled to play catch again today . . . Francona and Farrell expressed astonishment at how Manny Ramírez hit Freddy Dolsi's first big league pitch for a home run Tuesday night. "I mean, the first pitch of his career, what hitters are going to be looking for a slider?" Farrell said. "I don't know if Manny was looking for a slider, but he throws a slider and Manny hits a 430-foot line drive. That had to be a little startling. To his credit, he didn't show any emotion. He threw the ball very well after that." Farrell recalled that his first two pitches in the big leagues resulted in base hits - by Milwaukee's Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, who both wound up in the Hall of Fame. Farrell was pitching for the Indians - it was the 12th inning, and he not only managed to get out of the jam, he got credit for the win when the Indians scored in the bottom of the inning. You could look it up: Aug. 18, 1987 . . . The Sox will once again host a "Mother's Day Walk in the Park" at Fenway Park Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The 2004 and 2007 World Series championship trophies will be on hand from 11-1 for fans to take pictures with. Admission is free, but fans can benefit the Red Sox Foundation by purchasing $10 tickets for the Ring Raffle. Nine Sox fans will win genuine 2007 World Series rings and a 10th will receive a Volvo C30 Red Sox Special Edition car. Fans should enter Fenway Park through Gate C.

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