Tuesday, August 14, 2007


It must have been one of those moments as a broadcaster where you just wish you'd kept your mouth shut. Seconds after Don Orsillo said, "The Red Sox are 1-41 when trailing after eight innings", Mike Lowell hit a high fastball over the Monster seats. The homer tied the game at 1-1 and turned what looked like a loss into, well, not a loss.

It got better from there as the Sox rode the momentum of that homer to a 2-1 win over Tampa, increasing their lead to 5.0 games over the Yankees, who got pummeled by Baltimore.

After Lowell's homer, Youkilis was called out on a questionable third strike by the home plate umpire (it looked like a strike, but Youk fiercely disagreed). Despite that, there was a feeling, even in my living room, that the Sox weren't done. They weren't. Jason Varitek doubled into the right field corner and scored on a two-out line drive single to right by Coco Crisp, who was mobbed by his teammates coming around first.

It was the kind of win that the Red Sox have enjoyed precious few of this year, which is probably why Orsillo bothered to mention the 1-41 (now 2-42) stat. It was the kind of win that could galvanize a team, helping push them forward and into the post season. But that all remains to be seen.

What we know now is the Sox got it done when it counted, something they have been lousy at this season. The key to the game, though it didn't look it at the time, was the Sox pitching.

Jon Lester was terrific, throwing seven innings of two hit, one run ball. He was followed by Delcarmen, Timlin (who cleaned up Delcarmen's mess), and Gagne.

Lester can be a very effective pitcher if he throws strikes and avoids walks. When he does the opposite he can be lethal to himself. Tonight he struck out four and most importantly only walked one.

Lester was helped out a bit (though not abnormally so) by some great defense, especially in the fifth inning. The best play was a Jonny Gomes fly ball that Coco Crisp tracked down at full sprint by the corner of the visitor's bullpen.

Some Game Notes...

*Through four innings the Red Sox had three hits and three walks and had essentially stranded all of them. I say "essentially" because Manny got himself thrown out at second base after singling David Ortiz to third for the final out of the third inning.

*With the bases loaded and two outs courtesy of My Man Manny Delcarmen, Terry Francona brought in Mike Timlin to face B.J. Upton. Upton has been terrific this year, hitting .323 with 16 homers so far. Timlin struck him out on four pitches to preserve a 1-0 deficit.

*Lester got a well deserved standing ovation on his way in from the bullpen and then again when he took the mound. Despite what the national media may be peddling, Sox fans are classy.

*Heres a perfect example of how J.D. Drew is killing the Red Sox. After six innings of Scott Kazmir the Red Sox finally got into the Tampa bullpen. They drew someone with a 5.38 ERA, more hits than innings pitched, and almost as many walks as strikeouts. In other words, they drew an excellent opportunity.

With time running short in the game (eight outs left) the Sox got Jason Varitek on with one out. J.D. Drew came into the game to pinch hit for Wily Mo Pena. Drew swung at the first pitch fouling it back. I hate when pinch hitters swing at the first pitch. Take a pitch and get acclimated. Anyway, it didn't matter. Drew grounded into a double play on the next pitch. Rally and inning over. BOOOO!!

*If Julio Lugo has to play (and I suppose he does) then can't we bat him some place other than first in the lineup? For Christ's sake the guy has a sub-.300 on-base percentage!

*Through eight innings the Red Sox had four hits, two of which came off the bat of Dustin Pedroia.

*Eric Gagne came in to pitch the ninth. He struck out the first two before giving up a line shot of a double to right field. Unlike previous outings, Gagne came back and struck out Gomes for the third out
, giving the offense the chance they'd need to come back.

In other news...

*First Barry's 756th homer. Then A-Rod's 500th homer. Then Tom Glavine won his 300th game. Tonight Bobby Cox got his own piece of history, as he picked up his 132nd ejection. Thats the most times anyone has been thrown out of a big league ball game. Just think, Cox has now been thrown out of 82% of a base ball season in his career.

*R.I.P. Phil Rizzuto.

AL East: The Yankees lost 12-0 to Baltimore, falling 5.0 games behind Boston. The real culprit may have been A-Rod. Heres how he may have cost his team a game in the standings.

Flash back to May 30th in Toronto. Rounding third during an infield pop up with two outs, Rodriguez yelled "Got it!" loudly. This was an attempt to fool the Toronto fielder into thinking another Toronto fielder was going to catch the ball. A-Rod's little ploy worked, and an easily caught ball fell to the ground. Whether you think this is another cowardly act by an unsportsmanlike player, or has been way blow out of proportion, doesn't matter. The Blue Jays were pissed.

The next time the teams faced each other was roughly a week ago (pardon my not looking up the exact date). The Blue Jays took this as an opportunity to let A-Rod know exactly what they thought about it. They threw at him multiple times, ultimately hitting him in the leg. Roger Clemens was the Yankees starter that game, and, as you might guess, he retaliated. As stipulated by MLB rules, a pitcher who retaliates gets an automatic suspension (and so does the manager of said pitcher).

Clemens was suspended for five games, guaranteeing he misses a start. That start was tonight. Clemens' place in the rotation was taken by Jeff Karstens who allowed five runs in three innings including a grand slam to Aubrey Huff. Already down by five going into the fourth inning, Joe Torre elected to essentially give up. He did this by inserting his worst pitchers in order of suckitude. Jim Blowers and Ron Villone followed Karstens and collectively gave up seven runs in four innings. Game over. Thanks, A-Rod!

Tomorrow (Wednesday): The Sox go for the sweep against Tampa at 1:05pm EST. Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the start for Boston. He'll be opposed by Andy Sonnanstine.

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