With so much at stake following a disastrous 2012 season, the key everyone talked about regarding the Red Sox was the starting pitching. This was especially true coming off of a year in which Boston finished second to last in the American League in both ERA and wins.
No one could have scripted a better start after 12 games for the Red Sox starting rotation in 2013. Red Sox starters have held opponents to three runs or less in all 12 games this season, which is the longest such streak in team history. The starters have also allowed two runs or less in eight of the 12 games, a very impressive feat.
“We’ve talked about the importance of starting pitching and that being a cornerstone of how far this team will go and not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but through 12 games they have set a very good tempo, and very good tone to each ballgame we’ve played,” said manager John Farrell.
Leading the way for the Red Sox staff has been Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. The two are a combined 5-0 in their six starts with 1.42 and 0.41 ERAs respectively. The Red Sox are a perfect 6-0 in the pair’s starts. The most impressive performance of all came last Sunday when Buchholz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning while striking out 11 in a game against the Rays.
The success has carried over to the other members of the rotation as well. Although Ryan Dempster is 0-1 record-wise he’s pitched quite well, including a two-hit, one run seven-inning performance Monday afternoon in which he took a no-decision. Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Alfredo Aceves have all been solid in their first starts of the year as well.
Seeing the success of the other starters does motivate the others to go out and do the same thing, something that has played a part in the team's success to open the season.
“I think the nice part is you see guys in the rotation pitching as well as they have, even Ace [Aceves] and the start by Lackey, they have all thrown so well,” Dempster said, following his start Monday. “You don’t want to be the leaky wheel, you want to be the one who goes out there and keeps the streak going. You see how well [Lester] and [Buchholz] threw in those first three games and you want to do that as well. I think it is fun to push each other, it’s a competitive push to get the best out of each other and you get good results from that.”
With the success of the starting pitching and the timely hitting, the team is starting to develop an identity, something which never ever materialized last year. A new attitude, a new identity, and atop the American League East standings. What more could Red Sox fans have asked for to open the season?
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84