Although the Red Sox were stymied by right-hander Yu Darvish Sunday in Texas (14 strikeouts), Boston has actually done quite well against opposing aces. In fact, Sunday was the first time the Sox have lost when facing an opposing ace this season.
Obviously, the classification of an ace is different from person to person, but in most eyes the Red Sox have gone up against four top hurlers this season – CC Sabathia (April 1), R.A. Dickey (April 7), David Price (April 13) and Darvish (May 5).
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In those four starts the Red Sox have gone 3-1, with a combined run differential of 24-7, and the pitchers have a combined ERA of 5.56.
Price and Darvish were the only ones to make it into the sixth inning as the Sox got Dickey and Sabathia out of the game after just 4 2/3 and 5 innings respectively.
Patience at the plate has been the key to getting past opposing aces.
“Our overall offensive approach has been outstanding,” manager John Farrell said last week. “Guys aren’t afraid to pass the baton onto the next guy. They’ll take their walks in key spots. We’ve had good situational hitting. Most importantly, we’ve driven the pitch counts up of starters and have gotten into the bullpen.”
When you’re going up against the best of the best, aside from putting runs on the board, the team’s next goal is to be able to get that pitcher out of the game as fast as possible. Besides scoring runs, driving up pitch counts is the next best thing.
In the season opener in the New York, Red Sox hitters worked four walks off of Sabathia, which forced him out of the game after the fifth inning after throwing 102 pitches. The Red Sox went on to score four runs off of Yankees relievers in their 8-2 win.
A few weeks later, they forced Tampa’s Price from the game after six innings and 106 pitches in a game eventually won on a walk-off single from Shane Victorino in the tenth inning.
The success the Red Sox have had going up against some of the league’s best arms has played some role in the team being tied for the best record in baseball entering play Monday night, and their patient offensive approach has been a big reason why.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84