Red Sox

Red Sox starters stepping up by shutting things down

Red Sox starters stepping up by shutting things down

BOSTON -- Consistency from the starting rotation has been the Red Sox' primary cause for concern this season.

The bullpen is dealing with fatigue, but has had success -- boasting a .217 batting average against (best in the AL), a 3.38 ERA (sixth in the AL), and 227 strikeouts (sixth in the AL).

The lineup has seen a few guys -- Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw and Christian Vazquez -- struggle. But Ramirez and Shaw seem to be finding their way, while Vazquez had a promising weekend against Seattle. In any case, the offense is far from a concern.

But the last turn through the starting rotation may have been the most promising, beginning with Steven Wright on Wednesday and ending with David Price Sunday.

Now Roenis Elias was in over his head and Eduardo Rodriguez continues to be a disappointment (and is back to tipping pitches again).

However, Wright, Price and Porcello had crucial outings -- with each earning the win.

The one common theme with those three outings: Once the offense provided runs, those three clamped down and never allowing a run in an inning directly after the Red Sox scored.

In fact, once Boston scored for Porcello and Price, the Mariners never scored again -- with Wright's three runs allowed came at the end of his 7 1/3-inning outing, after he'd been handed a 6-0 lead.

“Well, when you look at the three guys that have been steady for us -- and that’s Rick, obviously David and certainly Steven -- to have that dependability goes a long way,” John Farrell said after Saturday’s 6-2 win.

But all three of them have realized they have to attack the opposition when Boston takes the lead. It's something they'd had problems with previously, giving up runs right after the Red Sox scored on multiple occasions.

“There were two chances for shutdown innings [Sunday] and I was able to [execute] both times -- even after giving up the single off the monster to [Kyle] Seager,” Price said following his 2-1 win. “That was good to be able to get those next three guys outs. It’s something I’ve had opportunities to do in my last couple starts and haven’t been able to do.”

Price executing in the shutdown innings after blowing chances for shutdown innings in his two starts preceding Sunday’s -- which he’s been aware of.

The recent trend, however, started with Wright -- who seems to be at the center of everything positive for the Red Sox this year.

“For me, I think it would [throw off momentum],” Wright, putting himself in the shoes of a hitter after a failed shutdown inning, said after his most recent start. “I really don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but that’s my mentality. So I try to go up there and throw up a quick inning to get our guys back in the dugout.”

Wright will most likely have the chance to step up in the same circumstance tonight against the White Sox.

If Boston can just get Rodriguez or Clay Buchholz on the same page -- because you can’t expect them both to suddenly figure everything out -- their rotation will become far less of a concern.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.