With Roger Clemens out, Mike Boddicker has been shouldering a heavy load as the most experienced starter in the Boston Red Sox rotation.
But Boddicker wasn't particularly interested in being called temporary staff ace after winning a pennant-race game last night against the Baltimore Orioles, his former team.
"I really don't care about any labels," said Boddicker, who wen six innings in a 7-3 victory. "When I came here [Boston], I was supposed to be No. 3. I just go out and pitch."
It is something he has done extremely well with Clemens sidelined with severe tendinitis. Boddicker is 5-0 with a 2.67 ERA tTC in his past six starts and needs only one victory to exceed the second-highest total (16) of his career.
"He was a little tired and got some balls up in that one innin [the fifth, when the Orioles scored all their runs]," said Red Sox manager Joe Morgan.
"I didn't exactly want to use [Larry] Andersen and the other guy [Jeff Gray] that long, but he had thrown a lot of pitches."
While beating rookie Ben McDonald for the second time thi year, Boddicker raised his lifetime record against the Orioles to 5-1, including 4-0 in 1990.
His season has included a 10-game winning streak, but hi second 20-win season probably is out of reach.
No victory was any bigger victory than last night's, with the Blu Jays clicking at the Red Sox's heels and having already won before this game was secured.
"It wasn't a pretty performance, but a win is a win," said Boddicker. "I don't think it was a great start, but it was a decent one. We needed something like this. I knew we were fine after we left Chicago [and four straight defeats]."
Boddicker threw 122 pitches, including 30 in the fifth, when h faced eight batters.
"Did anybody in spring training think the Red Sox would be where we are?" he asked. "One game ahead with 16 to play. We weren't supposed to have any pitching.
"All we can do is keep plugging away and see what happens Hope somebody beats Toronto to help us. If they don't, we'll have to."