COMMENTARY| On Monday the Boston Red Sox improved to 5-2 on the year after beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1. The start of the season has been a total 180 compared to the last two years for Boston. It took until April 19 in 2011 to reach five wins. It was even worse in 2012, when the Red Sox didn't win a fifth until April 23.
However, this isn't 2011 or 2012. The Red Sox are easily putting the past behind them with a likable group of players who have been very effective. Needless to say it's been very refreshing for a fan base looking to forget about the past as quickly as possible.
Many reasons have factored in to the quick start. The Red Sox are hitting .282 as a team, the team ERA is solid, they are one of just three teams left who haven't committed an error, and Joel Hanrahan is perfect so far in save opportunities.
Lester wasn't incredibly sharp on opening day, but still managed to record a quality start in a win over the New York Yankees. He followed that up with a much better performance against the Toronto Blue Jays. Spotted with a 5-0 lead, Lester threw seven scoreless innings, never allowing Toronto to sniff a comeback. Lester also has 13 strikeouts in twelve innings of work, a ratio that will certainly work for the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, Buchholz has been equally effective, if not better than Lester. His first start in New York went for seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits. Buchholz went another seven innings in a fine outing against Baltimore, not allowing a run and striking out eight. Even more impressive may be the fact that Buchholz himself thought he could have done much better. Regardless, as many expected since his Cy Young candidate year of 2010, Buchholz has been commanding the plate.
In fact, both he and Lester have been that commanding and have helped the Red Sox to a team ERA of 2.95, third best so far in the American League. That's a far cry from the 4.70 team ERA the Red Sox finished with in 2012.
The sample size is small, but this is exactly the start that the Red Sox needed from their best two pitchers. And now, with the injury to John Lackey, it becomes even more important. With the possibility of Lackey missing a start or two, more weight will be thrown on to the shoulders of the other starters. Lester and Buchholz will bare the brunt of it being the front-end starters facing much stronger matchups. However, the two have already outperformed two former Cy Young winners (CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey) and two hurlers coming off outstanding seasons (Huroki Kuroda and Wei Yen Chen). That's more than most tandems can say this early in a season.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
- Sports & Recreation
- Clay Buchholz
- Jon Lester