Thursday August 16, 2012 | 05:32 AM

The pitcher looked strong early, before fading Wednesday night.

Who are we talking about? Could be Aaron Cook, who had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings, before taking the loss in a 5-3 Red Sox defeat to the Orioles.

But we can also speak of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, before giving up five runs (four earned) in the fifth inning. The unearned run came on Matsuzaka's error.

Dice-K was pitching for Pawtucket. Still not ready for the prime time.

Remember when Matsuzaka began to fade in his career with Boston? People still thought he'd be a good fourth or fifth starter. The Sox rotation looked like it might be set with long contracts given to Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, along with Dice-K.

That group is 21-26 this year combined, with Lackey out for the year and Buchholz contributing 10 of those wins.

See TODAY'S COLUMN for a look at what really is sinking the Red Sox this year. We look at when the champion-era Sox had three pitchers to lead them.

There was some fine pitching performances Wednesday. You just had to be in Portland to see them. Drake Britton is beginning to justify his presence on the Boston 40-man roster, with his fifth-straight solid start. And Michael Olmsted is looking like a powerful reliever. See TODAY'S STORY.

As for the Red Sox, they have 44 games to go. Still waiting for that run? Here's a thought: Boston is just as close to the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) as they are to a wild card berth.

Here are the standings: 

AL EAST
Yankees 69-47
Orioles 64-53 (5.5 back)
Rays 63-54 (6.5)
Red Sox 57-61 (13)
Blue Jays 55-62 (14.5)

WILD CARD
Orioles 64-53
Rays 63-54
Tigers 63-55 (0.5 back)
A’s 61-55 (1.5)
Angels 62-56 (1.5)
Red Sox 57-61 (6.5)
Blue Jays 55-62 (8)
Mariners 55-64 (9)
Indians 54-64 (9.5)
Royals 51-65 (11.5)
Twins 50-67 (13)
 

 

 

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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