|Kevin Youkilis crosses the plate in the sixth after hitting his second homer of the night, which brought the Sox within 8-5. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)|
DETROIT - This was not going to continue indefinitely, especially against a lineup like Detroit's, and it didn't.
Clay Buchholz gave up four runs on five hits in the third inning last night.
Still, the work by the Red Sox' starting pitching staff over the previous 10 games was exemplary: The rotation was 5-3 with a 1.69 ERA (13 earned runs in 69 1/3 innings) while giving up just 36 hits. That lowered the starters' ERA from 4.51 to 3.58, fourth in the league entering last night. Oakland was first with a 3.31 ERA, Tampa Bay second at 3.48, and the White Sox third at 3.54.
Sox starters had allowed the fewest hits (166), but were the only staff in triple figures in walks (102). The Orioles and Tigers were next at 92 apiece.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (27) and Jon Lester (26) have combined to walk more batters (47) than the Twins' starting staff (45).
With 159 whiffs, the Sox' starters were second to Tampa Bay's 165.
For Sox pitching coach John Farrell, the satisfaction extends beyond the results.
"You get to know each guy individually and see each one's progression," Farrell said before last night's 10-9 loss to the Tigers.
"From Tim Wakefield, who has pitched 18 years, he has to work on some things between starts to maintain his delivery, which he did, and then you see him take that into a game.
"You share on a much smaller level the performances they execute.
"To see Jon Lester continue to grow as a pitcher and to see it come together, and the resolve he has shown - he gives up a base hit and walk, then executes pitches on both sides of the plate - every pitcher has a plan they're working on. To see them execute them, you live through them vicariously each and every night."
Lester had mentioned that during a roll like this, a pitcher feels like he doesn't want to be the one to end it, much like a batter who doesn't want to be the one to make the rally-ending out.
"I think more than anything it becomes the expectation," Farrell said. "That expectation may be in the short run, but I think because the guy before you does it, you gain confidence. You say, 'If I make pitches, I can dominate.' On the flip side, you get knocked around, it's, 'What do I have to do differently?'
"More than anything, it's the added element of confidence as each guy does well. I think, particularly the young guys, when they start feeling they belong, the quiet confidence they have as they go about their work, it's not only a sign of maturity but a sign they're establishing themselves at this level."
Don't even try to guess who the Sox will pull from the rotation when (if?) Bartolo Colon is ready. They haven't decided; they prefer to see what happens.
Oldies but goodiesWakefield's reaction to the news that he and Mike Timlin were the oldest pitchers in modern big league history (post-1900) to combine for a shutout in Boston's 5-0 win Tuesday night?
He twirled his finger. "Whoopee," he said, smiling.
Wakefield was 41 years 278 days. Timlin was 42 years 57 days. No pair of 40-somethings had ever combined to throw a shutout, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The appearance was No. 1,022 for Timlin, tying Jose Mesa and Lee Smith for eighth all time.
The shutout was Boston's fourth of the season, tying San Francisco for most in the majors.