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Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  August 5, 2011 11:11 AM

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...That's what the Red Sox' presumed biggest advantage over the Yankees -- starting pitching -- has become thanks to Clay Buchholz's balky back. Red Sox fans scoffed when the Yankees dipped into the recycle bin and pulled out retreads Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia to bolster a reed-thin rotation behind CC Sabathia, who leads the major leagues in wins.

But the Yankees are getting the last laugh. Entering their three-game set at Fenway, the Yanks had a starters' earned run average of 3.63, 10th in all of baseball. The Sox ranked 20th with a 4.14 starters' ERA. The Yankees have gotten 18 wins combined from the 38-year-old Colon and the 35-year-old Garcia, whose combined ERAs of 3.30 and 3.22, respectively, are marginally higher than John Lackey's 6.23 ERA.

Youngster Ivan Nova, who struck out 10 Thursday night, has chipped in with 10 more wins and a 3.81 ERA. Even mysteriously dead-armed Phil Hughes has looked good in his last two starts, giving the Bronx Bombers six legitimate starters, if you consider A.J. Burnett to be anything other than legitimately overpaid.

Meanwhile, the Sox are scrounging around for viable starters behind aces Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. Lackey, Tim Wakefield and reclamation project Andrew Miller all have ERAs of 4.99 or above, and trade deadline acquisition Erik Bedard is essentially making rehab starts at the major league level as he returns from a knee injury.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news


...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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