Tuesday, September 25, 2007


It was an odd but productive day at Fenway Park for the Red Sox. They managed to beat Tampa 7-3 behind six excellent innings from Curt Schilling. Ol' Schil only gave up one run on the day while striking out six and walking none. He was lifted after 86 pitches, which was by design. My Man Manny Delcarmen, Eric Gagne (who continued to struggle giving up a walk and a double; more on him later), Paps (who cleaned up Gagne's mess), and Brian Corey (1 inning, 2 runs) finished up the game for Boston.

In the meantime, the Sox got a two run homer from Big Papi and three hits and an RBI walk from J.D. Drew. You know what Drew is hitting since Sept. 1? .323/.443/.565. Thats not going to be sustained, but at least it seems like Drew has found his stroke a bit. Drew will finish this season with numbers far below what the Sox were expecting of him and what he was being paid for, but if he has a hot post-season all is forgiven and forgotten. Sort of reverse A-Rod-ism: someone who has a terrible year but a great post-season. (Yes, I know, over the course of his career A-Rod isn't a bad post-season performer.)

Gagne is another problem all together. Francona keeps throwing him out there in close games (the score was 4-1 when he came in) and he keeps putting guys on base. With two outs and two runners on, Francona brought in Papelbon, who got the third out with one pitch. (Damn that Paps is good, huh?)

There are two ways to see this. The pesimistic view is that Gagne is still ineffective. Whatever he has to figure out probably isn't going to get fixed now and pitching him in a close game is simply asking for trouble. The optimist's view point is that at least Francona didn't sit around on his ass and let Gagne blow the game up (as he has in the past). Instead he went out and got his best guy, Paps, who got the last out and maintained the lead. I guess thats a start.

In other news...

The Sox also got more good news in the form of the return to the lineup of Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis. Manny started in left and, in a planned move, was pulled after he walked in his second at-bat. Youk came in to pinch hit for Eric Hinske with the bases loaded and popped out. He stayed in the game at first base.

With five games left in the season the Red Sox are beginning to get their starting lineup back intact. Its especially encouraging that Manny was able to play the outfield for a few innings without any setbacks. Hopefully Manny will get fully healthy very soon and return to his usual monster Yankee-killing self. The less I have to read "Hinkse" in the lineup, the better.

AL East: The Yankees jumped out to five run lead in Tampa on the strength of an A-Rod grand slam, but couldn't hold it. In fact, Tampa hit one of their own a few innings later to take a 6-5 lead. The Yankees tied the game up 6-6 and it went to extras. In the bottom of the 10th, Joe Torre brought in Jeff Karstens (of the 11.05 ERA Karstens). Karstens' second pitch was deposited over the right field wall by former Yankee prospect Dioner Navarro. Game over, Yankees lose, Yankees lose THAAAAAAAAAAA Yankees lose. (I hate John Sterling.)

The Red Sox lead increases to 3.0 games with just five to go. The Sox magic number stands at 3 with ten games to be played (five by NY, five by Boston). This effectively means the end of any hopes the Yankees have of winning the AL East title. They still need only one win or one Tiger loss to win the Wild Card.

In other Yankees news, Roger Clemens was yanked from his start today (Kei Igawa started in his place) due to tightness in his hamstring. Clemens won't pitch again in the regular season according to MLB.com. Its still to be decided whether or not he'll pitch in the post-season.

This isn't a huge loss for the Yankees, at least not in the divisional series. They may not have been starting Clemens anyway. I would think the Yankees would use Pettitte and Wang (in some order) for four out of the five games anyway.

The third game (which would be pitched by someone else) could be pitched by Phil Huges or Ian Kennedy, both of whom have been more effective than Clemens has. Or, if Torre is coming down with a case of veteran-itis, he could use Mike Mussina, who pitched effectively if not well in his last start.

In any case, as much as we may love to laugh at the tribulations of Fat Billy here in Red Sox Nation, its probably not anything that really matters that much. Although, that in and of itself, might be worth a chuckle.

The Indians are in Seattle (and winning 3-1 in the 7th), while the Angels lost to Texas. In the race for best record in the AL, the standings look like this:

Cleveland....93-63 [edited to reflect Cleveland's win last night]

Tomorrow (Wednesday): Jon Lester gets his last regular season start, and quite possibly his last start of the season against Joe Blanton. MLB.com has the game listed at the strange start time of 5:00pm EST.

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