Baseball Report

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A 2-10 start to the season had the Boston Red Sox in the basement of the American League East, and Red Sox fans turning their attention to two of the city’s other pro teams — the Celtics and Bruins.

But with the talent on the Red Sox, it was just a matter of time before they began to turn things around. After a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, and on the road at that, Boston had come out victorious in eight of nine games, and its 10-11 record was good for third place, 3 games behind the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

Boston’s resurgence has been keyed by a starting pitching staff that went 7-1 with an 0.88 earned run average over nine games. Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed just one hit while striking out nine in eight innings in Saturday’s 5-0 win. He was coming off a 9-1 win last week over Toronto in which he limited the Blue Jays to one hit in seven innings pitched, ending a streak of seven consecutive winless starts.

“When he goes out there and throws strikes and throws it where he wants to and gets ahead, that’s what he can do,” teammate Kevin Youkilis said.

John Lackey beat his former team on Sunday in another shutout, 7-0, giving up six hits in eight innings. He fanned six and walked one. It was the ninth straight game that Boston’s starters have gone at least five innings while allowing less than three runs.

In the series opener, Josh Beckett allowed two runs and three hits in eight innings pitched. Boston won that game 4-2 in 11 innings. Jon Lester won the next game 4-3 in six scoreless innings.

“I think they’re all feeding off each other a little bit,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Getting some stability and consistency in the rotation really helps.”

The Red Sox had an overall ERA of 6.79 in their first 12 games, but dropped it to 1.64 over the next nine.

“We’re just executing pitches right now,” Lester said. “That’s the main thing. We’re very confident. We just have to stay healthy. So if everyone keeps taking their turn, everything should take care of itself.”

Boston’s sweep over the Angels should not come as a surprise. The Red Sox are 13-1 against the Angels since the start of 2010, outscoring them 88-41. But it was their first four-game sweep at Anaheim since 1980.

Now that their pitching has turned the corner, including closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had five saves entering this week’s series at Baltimore, the Red Sox appear to back as a fixture near the top of the AL East standings.

“We dug ourselves a hole,” Francona said. “Now we’re trying to dig out of it. “It’s kind of like a hitter with a low batting average but feels good about himself. We’re starting to do some things better.”

StatsWatch: Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro committed three errors in the second inning of Monday night’s 5-3 loss to the Rockies at Wrigley Field. He is the first Cub to have three errors in an inning since Jaime Navarro did it on Aug. 18, 1996, against Houston. A few more notes:

  • — The most errors by a shortstop in one inning is four (three times), the last occurring on Sept. 13, 1942, by the Cubs’ Lennie Merullo.
  • — Before Castro, the last player to make three errors in an inning was Cleveland third baseman Andy Marte on June 10, 2010.
  • — And the last shortstop to commit three errors in one inning was Aaron Miles of St. Louis on July 7, 2007.

Diamond Notes: MLB commissioner Bud Selig has picked former Texas Rangers team president J. Thomas Schieffer to run the Los Angeles Dodgers. MLB took over daily operations of the club last week from owner Frank McCourt. Schieffer, 63, is a former Texas state representative and former U.S. ambassador to Australia and Japan. He was president of the Rangers from 1991-99…Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver won again on Monday, shutting out the A’s 5-0 to improve his record to 6-0. Weaver is the first pitcher in major league history to get six wins by April 25 and is the sixth pitcher since 1900 with six victories by the end of April. He has three shutouts and four complete games in 150 career starts…Philadelphia is leading in home attendance, averaging 45,483 through its first 11 home games. San Francisco was second at 41,985 after nine games. At the bottom are Kansas City, averaging 15,509 in 14 games and Cleveland at 14,391 through nine.

Copyright © 2011 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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