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Sports

August 28, 2006

Awful in August, but Sox demand we stay positive

"We're all too negative."

When the statement was uttered by a few Red Sox players during and after their five-game Yankees debacle, it was taken to heart. Maybe Red Sox fans and followers aren't sidling up to the glass and correctly embracing the half-full mentality.

It would seem that when Boston was riding the wave of interleague success that someone would take note of the usual feel-good biorhythms emanating from Fenway Park, but evidently that wasn't the case.

So let us, in what appears to be the lowest point of the 2006 season, put on our happy faces.

Despite being swept by the last-place Seattle Mariners yesterday - Boston's second such whitewash by a cellar dweller this month - the Sox are 12 games above .500 and reside two games in front of Toronto in second-place in the American League East. If they ever did get to the World Series, you would have to like their chances, considering Terry Francona's team did go 16-2 against National League clubs.

The naysayers will point to the fact that if you subtract their interleague domination, Boston would reside at 55-57. And if you take away the Sox's feasting on Baltimore, their American League mark would then stand at just 44-56. But we're here to build up, not tear down.

Positive signs emanated from Safeco Field over the weekend, although you had to dig a bit to discover them.

The cynics that said that Boston didn't land anything at the nonwaiver trade deadline were smacked across the face with a big ol' dose of David Wells, the Red Sox's only addition to the starting rotation heading into August. After a couple of lukewarm starts, the lefty has notched a 2.89 ERA in his last four outings, the latest coming in Saturday night's loss.

Heck, the entire starting staff has seemed to level off a tad on the swing through the West Coast, maintaining a 4.34 ERA on the trip, which is one run fewer than their average for the month.

So what if Jon Lester will miss tonight's start in Oakland because of a bad back. The rookie is just 201/3 innings short of his professional high in innings pitched and reaching that milestone, whenever it may be, will be a step in the right direction. As will the next few starts of Josh Beckett, whose 164 frames is just 142/3 shy of a career high.

OK, Beckett might take a bit longer than anticipated to eclipse his high in innings pitched because of a cut near the nail of his right-middle finger. But ailment or no ailment, the Sox's flamethrower found himself in his last start and seems to be back in the saddle befitting a No. 2 starter.

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