Wednesday July 13, 2011 | 08:56 AM

In 2004, when the Red Sox charged to the playoffs and, eventually, a World Series title, the starting rotation was intact:

Pedro Martinez 33 starts, Derek Lowe 33, Curt Schilling 32, Time Wakefield 30, Bronson Arroyo 29.

Arroyo would have gone over 30 but he began the year in the bullpen as Byong-Hyun Kim (BK) was give a chance to start - an experiment that lasted three games. The only other starters were Pedro Astacio and Abe Alvarez, who each made one spot start.

2007, another championship year, did not have the same stability, but it was close:

Daisuke Matsuzaka 32, Wakefield 31, Josh Beckett 30, Schilling 24, Julian Tavarez 23, Jon Lester 11.

Once Lester came off the DL, having recovered from cancer, he replaced Tavarez in the rotation. Kasan Gabbard made seven starts, filling in here and there, especially when Schilling went on the DL from late June through July.

Clay Buchholz made 3 starts, including his no-hitter, and Devern Hansack made a spot start.

In 2011, with 72 games to go, it is possible that no Red Sox pitcher will make 30 starts.

Boston has used nine starters so far (one more than 2004, the same as 2007):

Lester 18 (on the disabled list)

Beckett 17 (has an aching knee which knocked him out of the All-Star Game)

Buchholz 14 (on the DL), John Lackey 14, Wakefield 11, Matsuzaka 7 (out for the year)

Andrew Miller 4, Alfredo Aceves 4, and Kyle Weiland with 1 spot start.

The Red Sox could use a 10th pitcher if Felix Doubront is called upon. And there is an outside chance that Kevin Millwood would be summoned.

The key, obviously, is to make the playoffs. Once there, if the Red Sox have a healthy Beckett, Lester and Buchholz, Boston will be in fine shape to repeat those '04 and '07 seasons.

Another pitcher, Alex Wilson, may also help Boston this year. Wilson is currently dealing for the Portland Sea Dogs, and is one of five Portland players in tonight's Eastern League All-Star Game. See today's Press Herald story.

There was little baseball Tuesday night, besides the Major League All-Star Game, although Greenville got a game in. Felix Sanchez went 3-for-4 with two stolen bases, giving him 29 this year.

I saw Sanchez play one game for Lowell last year and was immediately impressed with his speed, on the basepaths, and in center field. He got off to a slow start this season (batting .242), but is hitting .292 in his last 10 games. If he develops his offense, with his speed, he'll be a prospect, for sure.



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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