Michael Wacha’s complete game caps Red Sox rotation’s historic week

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 06: Michael Wacha #52 of the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 06, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 06: Michael Wacha #52 of the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 06, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox rotation is in a historically dominant stretch

Michael Wacha found himself in early trouble but the first-inning jam would end up being an afterthought by the end of a dominant performance that extended the Boston Red Sox winning streak to five games.

The Los Angeles Angels entered the game on an 11-game losing streak with their two superstars mired in miserable slumps. They are long overdue for a breakout, so when Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout both collected base hits in the first inning, it appeared the Red Sox were going to be on the wrong side of their positive regression.

Those fears were quickly put to rest. Wacha escaped the inning with a double play and went on to retire 15 consecutive batters. The right-hander allowed only one more hit plus a walk to finish a complete game shutout.

The only other complete game in Wacha’s career was in July of 2017. The last time he recorded at least one out in the eighth inning of a game he started was in June of 2018.

Wacha recorded the third complete game of the season for the Red Sox, joining Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta. According to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe, the three complete games are the most the Red Sox have recorded in a single season since the 2017 rotation produced four.

Wacha’s complete game shutout was the first by a Red Sox pitcher in a 1-0 game since Curt Schilling’s one-hitter against the Oakland A’s in June of 2007.

Dominant pitching performances have become a trend for this rotation. Red Sox starting pitchers have allowed a total of only one earned run over their last six games. Their collective 0.23 ERA is the franchise’s lowest mark over any 6-game span since earned runs were first tracked in the AL in 1913.

Red Sox starting pitchers over the last six games

Michael Wacha: 5 2/3 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
Garrett Whitlock: 6 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB
Nathan Eovaldi: 6 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 8 K, 1 BB
Nick Pivetta: 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB
Rich Hill: 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Michael Wacha: 9 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 6 K, 1 BB

The starting pitcher went at least five innings in each of these starts. A win was credited to the starter in each of the last five games, with the lone exception being a tough-luck loss charged to Wacha when he allowed one unearned run against the Cincinnati Reds a week ago.

The last six games have been historically dominant but strong performances from this rotation date back further. Pivetta has allowed one earned run or fewer in five of his last six starts. Eovaldi has logged 6+ innings while allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last three starts. Whitlock has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his last four.

Boston’s rotation has climbed to 7th in the majors and fourth in the American League with a 3.48 ERA, per FanGraphs. Their 7.95 K/9 falls in the middle of the pack but they rank 6th in the majors with a 2.51 BB/9.

The Red Sox are riding a five-game winning streak and they have won seven of their last ten games. Their 17-7 record is tied with the New York Yankees for the best in the majors since May 13.

Boston buried themselves in a hole with a miserable 11-20 start to the season but their turnaround since then has been remarkable. The lineup finally starting to click has been a significant factor in their success – despite being locked in a pitcher’s duel last night, the Red Sox still lead the AL in runs scored. The pitching staff deserves their fair share of the credit though.

Starting pitching was expected to be a weakness for this team but it’s turning into a strength. A week that rivals the production of any six-game span in franchise history is hardly the only evidence. The overall results this season are proving that the Red Sox rotation is exceeding expectations.

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