The Numbers Don't Lie

The Boston Red Sox are finding out what life is like without Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe as their starting pitchers, as among the starting pitchers Curt Schilling has a 7.13 ERA and has allowed 31 baserunners in 17.2 innings as he continues to round into form following off-season ankle surgery. David Wells' ERA ballooned to 4.91 during his ill-fated start Monday while Matt Clement's ERA soared from 2.13 to 3.90 after he allowed seven earned runs and a career-high 12 hits in 4.2 innings Tuesday.

The most alarming struggles, though, have been produced by Keith Foulke, who cemented his status as one of the game's best closers last year with a magnificent regular season and an even better postseason (1-0 with three saves and a 0.64 ERA in 11 games). He has now allowed 8 runs in 10 innings. And to give you an indication how awful he has been, he did not allow his 8th run until July 2nd last year.

It hasn't been all the pitchers' fault for this lackluster start as Mark Bellhorn leads the AL with nine doubles, but he has no homers. He hit 17 last year and he leads the majors with 28 strikeouts in just 70 at bats. Kevin Millar has been hit by a pitch five times but has just two extra-base hits and no homers. Bill Mueller, slowed by a pesky virus, has no homers in 51 at-bats. Edgar Renteira is hitting .238 and has grounded into four double plays, second-most in the AL. Even David Ortiz has three times as many strikeouts (15) as walks (five).

Over in the National League, the team that lost to the Red Sox in the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, are off to their best start in 23 years at 13-5. If you are looking for omens, in 1982 they started off 13-5 and won the World Series that year.

Mike Hampton has been nothing short of brilliant this seasonlook at Hampton shut down the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing two runs and seven hits over 8 2-3 innings in the Braves' 6-2 win Friday night. He's allowed just four earned runs this season in his four starts for a 1.17 ERA.

The Atlanta Brave's veteran left-hander looks to continue his impressive start to the season as he faces the New York Mets in the deciding game of their series at Shea Stadium. Asked if he has had a better start to a season, Hampton said, "Not that I can remember." Hampton's been dominant since the second half of last season. Since July 4, he has posted a 13-1 record with a 2.54 ERA in 18 starts, including 6-0 with a 1.16 ERA in the past nine. He will be opposed by former Brave Tom Glavine who has been less then stellar in his appearances against his former teammates. In 8 starts against his former buddies, Glavine is 1-6 with an ERA of 8.76.

Take a look around baseball and wins and losses are predicated by starting pitching. The Chicago White Sox have been lights out this year, including allowing only 4 runs in their past 4 games leading up to last night's game against Oakland. Lefty Mark Buehrle had given up just 3 runs in 25 innings and then bingo, he allows 6 runs in 6 innings and the White Sox eventually lose 9-7.