Sunday, April 28, 2013
Sox are red-hot, any way you add it up
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- On April 27, 2012, the Red Sox were on their way to becoming baseball's laughingstock. On April 27, 2013, they own the best record in the game.
While there may be a few holdovers from last year who are still looking to take sarcastic shots at the organization, it is tough to find fault with anything taking place on the field. Simply put, there are no holes.
When asked what has keyed the 17-7 start, the club's best since 2002, manager John Farrell cited a solid offensive approach. Then he referenced the consistency of the starting pitching. Then he made sure to mention an airtight defense.
"There's still room to improve in areas, but I think the fact is we've got three areas of the game that we're operating pretty well right now," he said.
The numbers back up Farrell's claim, some of them in dramatic fashion. Here are a few (tip of the cap to the Sox's PR team for their assistance):
* The Sox are 14-0 in games started by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront.
* The starters entered Saturday with a 3.09 ERA, second in the American League, and leading the majors with 153 strikeouts. They already have more double-digit strikeout games (four) than they did all last season (three).
* Boston pitchers lead the American League in opponents' batting average (.222).
* The bullpen entered Saturday having allowed only 16.7 percent of inherited runners to score, also tops in the majors.
* Boston entered Saturday tied for the major league lead with 21 stolen bases, and picked up another when Dustin Pedroia swiped second.
* Mike Napoli leads the majors in RBIs, Jacoby Ellsbury leads the majors in steals and David Ortiz has an OPS flirting with 1.500.
* Boston is 12-0 when scoring first, the franchise's best mark since at least 1915. It is 8-0 in series openers, 10-2 when hitting a homer and 13-1 when scoring at least five runs.
* The Sox entered Saturday with the third-fewest errors in the majors (eight).
For the players, it starts with preparation.
"Obviously that's where you want to be," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "You want to be in first. The guys are working hard. The best thing is we're prepared. We're ready to go every day. Everybody knows their role."
The season is not even a month old, but one really has to strain to find fault with what the Red Sox are accomplishing. And if one tries, the numbers -- in each phase of the game -- will make one think otherwise.