It all starts with the starters.
That has been the Red Sox' mantra throughout their frustrating first two weeks of the season. After starting with a 2-10 record, they looked to their starting pitchers to help pull them out of their April malaise. Sure enough, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester delivered, giving the Red Sox stellar starts Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and back-to-back victories over the Toronto Blue Jays.
"It doesn't matter what our record is; it starts with us," said Lester, who allowed one run in six strong innings after Beckett gave up one run in seven innings Saturday. "Regardless if we're undefeated right now or in the position we're in, it starts with us. We have to set the tone, go deep into the ballgames."
Beckett made back-to-back stellar starts against the New York Yankees and the Blue Jays. In his last 15 innings, Beckett gave up one run on five hits and struck out 19 batters, proving he still has ace-caliber stuff after a career-worst season in 2010 left outsiders with many doubts.
Lester, meanwhile, posted his third consecutive stellar start after an Opening Day disappointment in Texas, beating Toronto 8-1 Sunday.
Since he failed to strike out a batter against the Rangers, Lester has been overpowering. In his last three starts, Lester has a 1.80 ERA with 22 strikeouts and only 16 hits allowed in 20 innings.
"You can have inconsistent hitting and still win," manager Terry Francona said, "but if you pitch (well), you give yourself a chance to win every night."
With Beckett and Lester leading the way, the Red Sox' rotation has begun to stabilize. But they still need better performances from right-handers Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. Matsuzaka will lug a 12.86 ERA into his start Monday against the Blue Jays, while Lackey has a 15.58 ERA and Buchholz is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA.
"Quality start after quality start," catcher Jason Varitek said. "That's what's going to get this team going."
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