Red Sox Strut: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, LHP Chris Sale
By Sean Penney
Drew Pomeranz is tied for fourth in the league in wins after notching his 10th of the season by shutting out the Blue Jays over 6 2/3 innings. The lefty is vanquishing the critics who complained about last summer’s mid-season trade that brought Pomeranz to Boston. He’s allowed two runs or less in six of his last seven starts to lower his ERA to 3.51, which ranks ninth in the league. The five walks he issued are a concern, especially since it’s the second time this month he’s allowed that many free passes in a start. Something to keep an eye on even if it hasn’t come back to bite him yet.
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Hector Velazquez tossed the final four frames of a 15-inning affair with the Blue Jays last week. He kept Toronto scoreless while allowing two hits and a walk in relief to earn the win. Of course he was rewarded by being optioned back to Pawtucket so that the Red Sox could add a fresh arm to the bullpen. The impressive performance should put him back on the radar the next time Boston needs a spot starter, while a case can be made that he should be replacing Doug Fister as the long man in the bullpen.
One of the arms called up to replenish the bullpen when Velazquez was sent down was Ben Taylor. The 24-year old was horrendous during his last big league stint, posting a 13.50 ERA over six appearances in May. He seems to be much improved this time around, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief since his return.
Rick Porcello has shown signs of improvement following a disappointing first half. The reigning Cy Young has allowed three runs or less in all four of his starts in July. His latest effort came in a loss, but he matched his season high with eight innings and gave up only five hits. The problem is that three of those hits were home runs. Each was of the solo variety, but they were all meatballs down the middle of the plate. Porcello isn’t making many mistakes, but opponents are punishing him for the ones he does make.