Starting pitchers carrying load for AL East leaders

Starting pitchers carrying load for AL East leaders

Starting pitchers carrying load for AL East leaders

BOSTON -- Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Red Sox are on a roll, and much of the credit belongs to the quality pitching from the starters.

During the span, Boston starters have combined for five quality starts, and in all but one outing, the starter lasted at least six innings.

Jon Lester and John Lackey have been particularly effective over the past two games, combining to give up two runs in 15 innings.

The result is a well-rested bullpen and an offense that feels it's always within striking distance.

"It has such a trickle-down effect, particularly to the bullpen," Farrell said. "Obviously by being out there they're pitching well, so you're in the game. You're probably giving us a chance to win on that night, and when you go to guys in the 'pen, they come to you rested."

The recent stretch from the starters has been particularly important, because the Red Sox are currently carrying one less reliever than normal due to shortstop Stephen Drew's right hamstring tightness.

Factoring in the off-day on Monday, the bullpen, which ranked 11th in the American League in innings pitched entering Thursday, has thrown three innings over the past three days.

"That group has been pushed pretty hard through the first two-and-a-half, three months on the season, so as the weather is heating up and the innings are starting to pile up, it's coming at a good time," Farrell said.

Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.