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Red Sox Extras: Uniquely Aaron Cook

There had been 37 complete game shutouts thrown in the 2012 season before Aaron Cook held the Mariners down for nine straight innings Friday night.

In their shutouts, pitchers have averaged 7.21 strikeouts, 3.16 hits, 1.22 walks, and 111.16 pitches.

Aaron Cook's was rather different.

On the "negative" side, Cook picked up just two strikeouts. On the other hand, he gave up just two hits (one an infield single), no walks, and needed a remarkably low 81 pitches to do it. Only five of the 37 previous shutouts had come in under 100 pitches, and the previous low had been 88.

Only Matt Cain and Phillip Humber, the authors of perfect games, faced fewer batters than cook, who could have faced the minimum thanks to two double play balls were it not for an error from Mike Aviles.

This sort of ridiculous efficiency was Aaron Cook at his best. Pounding the zone, with 72 percent of his pitches going for strikes, Cook threw sinker after sinker, kept them low, and got opposing batters to hit the ball on the ground. The Mariners would not manage so much as a fly ball out in fair territory until the sixth.

It was not domination in the traditional sense, but that's not what Cook is here to do. He's here to give the Sox winnable games if they're willing to play defense. Last night he did his part by earning tons of ground balls, and the defense did theirs by turning them into outs.

All according to plan.

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