With a tremendous swing of the bat, Manny Ramirez (number 24) moved into a tie for 24th on the all time home run list. It was home run number 493 for Manny tying him with Fred McGriff, and the legend Lou Gehrig (whose number 4 I wore on my back for most of my baseball playing days). I am sure that swing rubbed a lot of already irate Indians fans the wrong way. If you had not heard, there has been a movement in Cleveland to bean Manny for his "transgression" of watching his home run in game 4 of LAST YEAR's playoff series against Cleveland. Have you ever heard of fans holding a grudge like that? Sheesh.
There were a number of heroes yesterday, and for me, a notable one was David Ortiz. I have mentioned a number of times that the Sox offense has been weak, in part due to Big Papi's slump. That does not mean he has to hit home runs all the time, but when he goes 'o-fer' it leaves a big hole in a critical part of the lineup and shuts down the offense. Just look at the ninth inning last night. Two outs, bases empty, tie ball game. Ortiz gets on base with a bloop single, then Manny wins the game. Had Papi struck out, we lose that opportunity. Nice job Papi!
Jon Lester, I thought, was very heroic. Yes, he had a mediocre night all together, but battled well in the 4th. It looked like the Indians were about to completely blow the game open, but even though Lester was against the ropes, he did not go down. He kept the damage to 2 runs, kept the bullpen off the field a little longer, and kept the team in the game. His stuff was good again, but he needs to stay closer to the strike zone - his big issue.
The middle relief out of the bullpen was great (sigh of relief). Julian Tavarez was tremendous, coming into the game in the 5th inning with bases loaded and only one out. He proceeded to strike the next two batters out to save the day, and then went two more innings of overwhelming shutout ball to stymie the Indians. Mike Timlin, who has looked incredibly hittable recently, followed Tavarez with a snappy 1-2-3 8th inning, setting up the late heroics for Manny in the ninth.
All in all a fun game to watch. It was encouraging to see the Sox put up a great fight like that. The Sox are now 5-5 on this very challenging 13 game stretch in the schedule. We all realized that if they go roughly .500 in this stretch, they'll be doing fine. So far so good.
A few days ago I pondered how the Sox would use Jed Lowrie, who is primarily a shortstop, as an aid to the ailing Mike Lowell, who plays third base. Tonight we will find out as Terry Francona has indicated Lowrie will be in the starting lineup. Terry has not committed to where Lowrie will play, but he seems to be leaning towards putting Lowrie in at third, moving Kevin Youkilis back to first, and giving Sean Casey the night off. Always fun to get a look at the young talent. Let's hope he has a good, and memorable night.
(AP Photos/Mark Duncan - from ESPN.com)