The Red Sox consecutive-game streak was broken Thursday night, but the Red Sox got right back to work last night as staff ace Jon Lester started a new one.

No, obviously, I’m not talking about a winning streak because, as we all know, the Red Sox won on Thursday night. The streak I’m talking about has to do with the starting rotation.

While this edition of the Red Sox may have gotten off to an historically-bad start, Red Sox Nation shouldn’t forget this is a club that many pundits predicted would win 100 games. And while the offense has not shifted into high gear (yet), the high hopes for the 2011 club were equally dependant on the quality of the pitching staff, as well as on the production of the offense. The lineup continues to struggle to score runs, but we should not overlook the fact that the starting rotation has started to round into shape.

Beginning with Josh Beckett’s outing last Saturday against the Blue Jays, Red Sox starting pitchers had gone at least five innings in each of the succeeding five games without allowing more than one run in any outing:

Beckett allowed one run in seven innings on Saturday (Sox win)
Lester yielded one run in six innings on Sunday (Sox win)
Dice-K tossed seven shutout innings on Patriots Day (Sox win)
Lackey gave up one run on Tuesday night in Oakland (Sox loss)
Buchholz surrendered one run in 5.1 IP on Wednesday (Sox win)

It was the first time since 1947 that the Red Sox rotation went five consecutive games in which the starting pitcher allowed one or fewer runs while pitching at least five innings in each ballgame.

That’s 64 years, folks. Two generations of Red Sox fans. My mother and father hadn’t even met one another the last time a Red Sox staff pulled this off.

Ironically, the streak ended against the Angels on Thursday night, in what may have been the best performance by a Red Sox starter this season. Josh Beckett was nearly brilliant for eight innings. He retired the first nine hitters of the game. Then, after issuing a walk to start the fourth inning, he set down nine of the next 10 batters he faced—the only exception being an infield single by SS Erick Aybar in the sixth inning.

The “impressive outings” streak came to an end in the seventh inning when Beckett walked the leadoff hitter (DH Bobby Abreu) and then surrendered a two-run home run to RF Torii Hunter. He retired the next six hitters in succession before finally yielding to Daniel Bard in the ninth inning. The Red Sox eventually won the game, 4-2, in extra innings.

The club had ridden this succession of outstanding performances to five wins in six games, entering last night’s contest against the LA Angels. Jon Lester bore the responsibility of starting another string of impressive outings. He succeeded.

That’s not to say this was Lester’s best performance. It wasn’t—nor was it as good as Beckett’s outing on Thursday night. But the object of the game is to keep the other guys off the scoreboard and record “wins,” and that is precisely what he did.

It is precisely what all of the Red Sox starters have done as of late… and while that 100-win season may be out of reach, they are only 3.5 games out of first place with 144 games left to play.

It’s a safe assumption the jumpers have vacated the Zakim Bridge at this point.

Read more MLB news on