Past 6 Days

Apr 22, 2003 6:24 AM

7-1 and dropping

The Boston Red Sox have won 7-of-8 and have dropped a game in the American League East standings.

While the in-fighting continues about the "closer by committee," the Sox keep coming up with clutch hitting and pitching efforts in gallantly trying to keep pace with the hated Yankees. Mike Timlin improved to 3-0 with two perfect innings of relief as Boston completed a sweep of inconsistent Toronto.

The Red Sox are 13-6 and just three games behind the Yankees, who improved to 16-3 with a sweep at Minnesota. The Boston relievers, who allowed 34 earned runs in 411/3 innings to open the year, had posted a string of 131/3 consecutive scoreless innings prior to Monday’s loss.

Anything but Rocky

Coors Field favoring pitching? Has the world gone mad? Perhaps, but Colorado’s Shawn Chacon is enjoying every minute of it. Chacon improved to 3-0 with an 8-0 shutout of San Diego on Sunday to lower his ERA to 0.98.

And, it’s not only Chacon who is profiting at hitter-friendly Coors. Nelson Cruz allowed three runs and six hits in five innings Saturday, while Aaron Cook gave up just one run and five hits Friday. The Rockies are 8-1 at Coors and are the only team within eight games of the Giants in the NL West.

Offensively, the Rockies had five starters in the lineup Sunday batting over .300. The decision to focus on speed, pitching and defense appears to be working under new manager Clint Hurdle.

"Moose" is loose

Will the Yankees starters ever lose? New York beat Minnesota for the 13th straight time Monday, as the starting staff improved to 14-0. That’s the longest winning streak for a starting rotation to begin a season since 1900.

Mike Mussina owns the best record on the staff at 4-0, matching his best previous start to a season 11 years ago when he was with Baltimore. The Yanks are off to their best start is team history. Things are going so well that high-priced signee from Cuba, Jose Contreras, was sent down to the minor league complex in Tampa to get in more work.

Maybe, Jose can work a deal with Detroit.

D’backs coming alive

Defending NL West champion Arizona is already nine games behind the Giants, but there’s evidence things could be on the upswing.

The D’backs received quality starts from Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in their last outings, while maligned closer Mike Mantei gained his second save in as many outings.

Mantei hit 100 on the gun Sunday to save a 1-0 victory against St. Louis, a pretty fair offensive team. After two seasons recovering from arm problems, having Mantei at full strength will allow the D’backs to keep Byung Hyun Kim in the rotation with Johnson, Schilling, Elmer Dessens and Miguel Batista.

Yeah, it’s April but Arizona can’t afford to fall behind much further.