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Buchholz continues Sox’ march to history

05.19.11 at 11:01 am ET
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Records on the subject go back 93 years, to the 1919 season that was best remembered for having culminated in the Black Sox Scandal that pulled the lid off of game-fixing in the World Series and for having represented the last campaign in which Babe Ruth was in the employ of the Red Sox.

In almost half (41) of those four-score and 13 years, the Red Sox have had no more than 10 games in a season in which a starter exited the game without having allowed a run. That puts in sharp relief just how striking a run the Sox rotation is currently experiencing.

The season is barely one-quarter complete. Yet with the seven shutout innings from Clay Buchholz on Wednesday, the Sox have now had 11 starts this year that ended without a single run allowed — most in the majors this year. That is one more scoreless start than the team had in the entire 2006 campaign, and nearly as many as the 13 zero-run starts that the team had in a playoff campaign in 2005.

More than one in four Red Sox games this year have ended with the starter having held the opponent scoreless. That, in turn, has the Sox on a pace that could prove historic.

Since 1919 (the earliest recorded year in baseball-reference.com), the team has never had more than 30 scoreless starts in a season. This year, the team is on pace for a starting 42 such outings. If the Sox stay on such a pace, it would represent the most not just in Sox annals but in all of the majors since 1919. The current high of 34 shutout starts was achieved by the 1964 Angels.

The contributors for the Sox have been of an across-the-board variety. Buchholz turned in his second scoreless outing of 2011 on Wednesday. Josh Beckett hasn’t given up a run in four of his eight outings to date (most in the majors). Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka have each held the opponent scoreless in two of their starts this season, while John Lackey had one scoreless start.

No one else in the majors right now is particularly close. Three teams (the Orioles, Dodgers and Brewers) have each had eight starts without a run allowed. The Sox — despite a 4.11 ERA from their starters that ranks 19th in the majors and 11th in the AL — have separated themselves from the pack in terms of starts that have not yielded a single run. The Sox are 9-2 in those games, with the only losses being a 1-0 loss to the Indians in the first week of the season (when Lester tossed seven shutout innings) and the 5-3, 13-inning loss to the Angels earlier this month (when Beckett’s night was ended by a lengthy rain delay after 4 1/3 innings).

It remains to be seen whether the Sox can continue such an ambitious pace, particularly as the weather gets warmer and the ball starts to carry. Nonetheless, to this point in 2011, while there have been some inconsistencies, the Sox have received a cluster of dominant starts through one-fourth of the season that has little precedent in franchise history.

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