BALTIMORE -- While Jon Lester didn't have his best stuff on Saturday night in Boston's 11-5 win over the Orioles, he still produced a quality start and kept Red Sox starting pitchers on a tremendous roll in which they have allowed three earned runs or less in 12 straight games. The same cannot be said for Manny Delcarmen, who is struggling with his mechanics and doesn't have much time left to try to fix them.
Delcarmen entered the ninth inning with an 11-3 lead, and he gave up back-to-back homers to Ty Wigginton and Felix Pie. Delcarmen walked the next two batters and was taken out of the game without recording an out. Manager Terry Francona said Delcarmen has been flying open with his delivery, unable to get his hips in line with the rest of his body.
The result: Delcarmen is leaving pitches up in the strike zone.
"Sometimes you get away with it," Delcarmen said. "But when it's up in the zone, especially [because] I throw somewhat hard, they turned on it tonight."
In the first 44 games Delcarmen appeared in this season, he didn't allow a home run. In his last 15 games, however, he's given up four. He now has a 13.50 ERA in September. Pitching coach John Farrell said Delcarmen is dealing with an "ongoing maintenance item in his delivery" and he hasn't reached the point where he's been able to consistently identify a way to stop flying open when he pitches.
"Ideally, the ability to make an adjustment in one pitch [is] the goal," Farrell said. "When you see it leak into two, three, four hitters, it's a little more of a stark reality.
"He's just in a little bit of a stretch here where it hasn't happened as readily."
Delcarmen said some nights he's able to keep the ball down, others he is not, and this is the first time in the big leagues he can recall when he's had to find mechanical adjustments for a stretch of time.
"It's frustrating but I know Farrell and Tito are trying to get me to be where I need to be," he said. "They're gonna keep throwing me out there to try and get some work in and hopefully it turns out better than tonight."
Lester gets W
Just like Clay Buchholz the night before, Lester did not have his best stuff. But he did enough to get his 14th win this season, though his ERA rose from 3.29 to 3.33.
"You've just got to keep pounding away," Lester said. "You've got to try and make the adjustments -- if there's adjustments needed -- or just keep throwing the ball and hopefully they start hitting [it] at people."
Lester has not lost since July 31, a span of 11 straight starts. That ties Felix Hernandez and Tommy Hanson for the longest streak this season in the majors.
Don't throw Youk a curveball
When Matt Albers had Kevin Youkilis at 3-2 with Dustin Pedroia on third base, the last pitch he probably should have thrown him was a curveball. That's because entering Saturday night's game against the Orioles, Youkilis was hitting .387 off curveballs. That's good for third-best in the major leagues. The major league average is .214, according to Inside Edge.
And it's not just breaking pitches Youkilis excels at hitting; he's also one of the best fastball hitters in the big leagues. While the league average is .285, Youkilis was hitting .372 off heaters, which was good for sixth-best in the league
Carroll mentions Papelbon
Saturdays are obviously college football days, and in the clubhouse before the game every TV was tuned to a game. What went unnoticed last weekend was USC head coach Pete Carroll bringing up Jonathan Papelbon in his postgame news conference after the Trojans beat Ohio State.
On USC's winning drive, Carroll used his regular tailback, Joe McKnight, for most of the running plays. But when it was time to score, Carroll shifted to Stafon Johnson, who ran for a 2-yard touchdown. As Pete Thamel in the New York Times noted, it was McKnight who did most of the work, but it was Johnson "whom they relied on for short yardage."
"It's like brining in Papelbon," Carroll said.
When asked if he was aware of Carroll's reference, Papelbon said he was not.
"Cool. What did he say?" Papelbon said.
Papelbon said he didn't know of any connection to Carroll or whether he was a Red Sox fan. He did say, however, he's not much of a college football fan, preferring the NFL.
Quick hits ...
Every player in the Red Sox starting lineup had a hit. Victor Martinez singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 18 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player who was acquired in midseason and posted a hitting streak of 17 or more games for his new team was Dave Martinez in 2000. Martinez hit in 21 straight games after the Texas Rangers traded him to Toronto that season. It seems as though the Orioles' poor performance on the field has transferred to their scoreboard operations. As colleague Pedro Gomez noted halfway through Saturday's game, the outfield scoreboard still showed no scores for games already underway, and for games which had been completed hours earlier. When the game ended on Saturday night, the scoreboard had remained unchanged.
Amy K. Nelson
Amy K. Nelson is an award-winning journalist who covers major league baseball for ESPN.com and is part of the site's Enterprise team. Follow her on Twitter.