I know I got my flu shot this year, but they must have run out of serum by the time they got to Fenway. For the second day in a row, the starting pitcher for the Red Sox has been scratched at the last minute due to the flu that has been going around the clubhouse. Terry Francona has been very creative using his bench, as well as the minor league systems, to get through the crisis. Yesterday, Dice-K Matsuzaka was at the park and looking fine, but as the day progressed the flu rapidly took hold. he was such a last minute scratch that Tito had little choice but to bump up Jon Lester a day early.
This was the first time Lester had pitched on three days rest, and the coaching staff had decided to limit him to about 80 pitches to reduce the possibility of an injury. To compensate for the expectation of going to the bullpen early, Craig Hanson was called up from Pawtucket. Hanson took over for Lester in the 6th inning with the score tied. He threw well, and it was encouraging to see. But, he did leave a fastball too far out over the plate resulting in a solo home run for Casey Kotchman. Other than that he looked fine and went 1 2/3 innings. Timlin gave up a run in the ninth in his one inning of work. Still not the lights out guy we need yet. Hanson was returned COD to Pawtucket after the game to keep the flu doors revolving.
The Sox lost, which seems inevitable after a 6 game winning streak and half the team out with the flu. One good thing was a 2 run home run by Big Papi in the 5th inning to tie the game. Nice to see Ortiz coming around.
Early game today at 1:35. Since Lester pitched yesterday, the Sox called up Justin Masterson, a 23 year old hot prospect pitching in double A Portland this season. This will be Masterson's major league debut, and a chance for Sox fans to get a look at him. He is a player Theo Epstein has been keeping close and refusing to trade. Expectations are good for him to make the starting rotation next season, so this will be a nice preview.
Now let's just hope Masterson got his flu shot!