The Bucs currently lead the Red Sox, 2-1.
Whatever the Bucs' motivations for describing Oliver Perez as something other than a strikeout pitcher and denying that his velocity was especially important, Perez looks pretty darn close to his 2004 strikeout-throwing form right now. I'm excited. While his control is still a little shaky - he has only walked one guy, but he's running up a lot of three-ball counts and plainly isn't making all his pitches - he's throwing quite hard. ESPN's radar gun says his fastball is coming in at 84-87 MPH, but that's obviously wrong. My guess would be he's throwing 94-95 - not quite as fast as he threw in '04, but still awfully fast and way faster than he was apparently throwing as recently as ten days ago, when reports had him throwing about 90 MPH.
He's also throwing a breaking ball that, while not quite as knee-bucklingly ridiculous as it was in '04, is very good and is obviously confusing Boston hitters. He has also thrown a couple of nice changeups. He's striking out batters all over the place and his control is improving as he goes along. Last week, I was skeptical of Perez's and Humberto Cota's claims that Perez would pick up velocity as his arm strength improved, but that's plainly what has happened.