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El Duque stops the skid

It's pretty nice that I consider a two game losing streak a skid. It's the shortest possible "streak" you can have. Hardly worth mentioning at all, really. But when everyone thinks your team in a just a flash in the pan, and you've dropped two the the Devil Rays, it's time to get nervous.

I could only imagine the coverage on Baseball Tonight had the Sox limped out of Tampa as the victims of a sweep. They would have declared the south siders dead. In reality, the one game doesn't mean that much, but it sure feels good to have gotten out of there with at least one victory.

**Naked Pictures Below the Fold**

Did I mention the naked pictures were of Timo Perez?

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Once again, what can I say about El Duque? He's not only fun too watch, he's one helluva pitcher too. Wednesday might have been his best outing of the season. The Sox desperately needed a win to save face against the D-Rays, and El Duque stepped up to shut them down. Take a look at his numbers since coming off of the DL last season.
W L IP H ER BB K ERA 13 3 128 118 45 56 112 3.14

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It's nice to see that Ozzie has time to read the blog.

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All kidding aside, it was reported Wednesday that Ozzie was going to be more careful with El Duque and Garcia. Though from Wednesday's game you would have been hard pressed to tell. Duque had cruised through the 5th and 6th, so ordinarily I would have thought nothing of him being brought back out for the 7th, but I had read my morning paper.

To my surprise El Duque was back on the mound to start the 7th. He had only thrown 90 pitches, and had looked great in his previous two innings, so I gave Ozzie a pass on the decision. Then he gave up a single, albeit a bloop single, to someone named Damon Hollins. (For those of you wondering, he's a 30 year-old outfielder who had 37 career at bats in the majors before this season.) I was already calling for Cliff Politte to start the inning, so now I was starting to get a little heated. Duque retired the always dangerous Jorge Cantu on a flyball to Rowand, but followed it up with a 4 pitch walk to Chris Singleton, yes that Chris Singleton.

At this point, El Duque had reached the 100 pitch mark. -- His last three outings he threw 111, 118, and 116 pitches, respectively -- It was not the time to leave him in any longer. Still, Ozzie gave him a long leash. Duque proceeded to walk Charles Johnson, yes that Charles Johnson. Only then, with the tying run stepping to the plate did Ozzie finally make a call to the pen.

Politte came in and got a sacrifice fly and a strikeout, allowing minimal damage. The Sox escaped the threat with a 3-run lead, but it didn't have to come to that.

Again this isn't something I would normally complain about, but it's in the freakin' paper that you're going to have a quicker hook with El Duque. Where was it Ozzie? There's supposedly an extra pitcher in the pen for just this purpose. I'd hate to see the carnage that has to take place if he was giving a guy a little rope.

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Pablo Ozuna got his first at-bat since being hit on the hand in Oakland back on April 26th. For those of you counting at home, that's 13 days. In other words, he occupied a valuable bench spot for 12 games over 13 days, while never being able to swing a bat. He came off the bench twice to pinch run, but that's hardly economical use of a bench spot. 13 days is just two days less than the minimum time required for a DL trip. Essentially, the Sox played with 24, or fewer, players for the past two weeks.

Now with Kevin Walker in the pen, they are pretty much doing the same thing again. He's not going to see any time unless there is a huge blowout. The Sox have yet to see a blowout for either side this season. Their largest loss was when Ozzie burned through the pen against Cleveland on the third game of the season.

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I've got to pimp a couple of Sox related sites here to close out this entry. First, you'll notice Triple Threat Sports is having a signing with Aaron Rowand and Scott Podsednik this weekend. Click the ad in at the lower left for more info. (I guess it's actually on the lower right if you've read this far.)

Second, I've got to give props to the guys over at I don't visit it as often as I should, and I don't know why. They do the not-so-enviable job of digging through the minor league box scores -- which have been terrible this season since MLBAM took over -- and putting together everything you could possibly want to know about the Sox farm system on one site. Dan posted a great wrap-up of the month of April with stats and ranking from all of the top prospects. Check it out.