Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Orioles Avoid Sweep - Knock Out Okajima in 8th

Last night, the Orioles saved some face in front of the home town crowd by beating the Red Sox 6-3. With Tim Wakefield on the mound for Boston, Baltimore decided to steal a page from Jacoby Ellsbury and come out running. With one out in the first inning the running started. Brian Roberts, who had reached first base on a single, stole second base, and quickly proceeded to steal third base, setting himself up to score. Melvin Mora ended up walking and Orioles' clean up batter, Aubrey Huff, stepped in. Huff worked the count to 2-2, and then struck out looking at the next pitch. But on that very pitch, Mora took off for second and was gunned down by Kevin Cash for the third out. The running game was putting pressure on the Sox, but it was not effective at scoring runs yet.

In the second inning, Luke Scott hit a single to right field, and thought he'd avoid the whole steal situation by stretching the single into a double. But, JD Drew is no longer suffering the effects of vertigo has had last week and gunned down Scott at second base. The O's manufactured two runs in the 4th inning, but that is all they would get from Tim Wakefield, who had a good night, lasting through the 7th inning, kindly giving the bullpen a much needed rest.

Manny RamirezMeanwhile, the Sox had slowly managed to inch their way back into the game. Manny Ramirez got the first run on the board when he hit a solo home run in the 6th inning (didn't I tell you Manny would go on a tear for a while?). In the 7th, Kevin Cash hit a double that scored Alex Cora from first to tie the game. The Sox threatened to blow the game open in the 8th inning. Kevin Youkillis started the inning with a walk, Manny singled, and a passed ball moved them up to second and third. A Mike Lowell single scored Youkilis and sent Manny to third base. Then, JD Drew hit a ground ball to short, and Manny took off for home, only to be gunned down for the first out. Coco Crisp walked to load the bases for Alex Cora, but Alex ripped a ground ball to third base that Melvin Mora converted into an inning ending double play.

Hideki OkajimaWith the Sox now on top 3-2 heading into the 8th inning, it looked like a good situation. Hideki Okajima will pitch the 8th, and Papelbon will get a save in the ninth, right? Well, games are played on the field, not on paper, and this one did not look like it did on paper. For whatever reason, Okajima just did not have his stuff last night. He started off the inning surrendering back to back to back singles to load the bases with no outs. Kevin Millar followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that tied the game at 3. The next play was interesting. Luke Scott hit a grounder to Youk who fired to third baseman, Mike Lowell to trap Melvin Mora between home and third. Mora was out, the score was still tied, and the Sox now had two outs. Just one out away from keeping the score tied. Unfortunately, Okajima was not up to the task last night, and Terry Francona was unable to recognize that. Okajima walked the next batter to load the bases for Adam Jones. Jones launched a screaming double that cleared the bases and ended the Sox hopes to come back to Boston 5-5 on the road trip.

Adam JonesInstead, they return 4-6 on the trip and find themselves 1 1/2 games behind tonight's opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox now get to battle the Rays in a fight for first place on their territory. The Sox, without Daisuke Matsuzaka, will turn once again to Justin Masterson, hoping he holds on to his rookie magic. Masterson has been called up twice for the Sox this year, and has pitched well in both starts. But, Tampa will counter with Matt Garza, who is having himself a very nice year, currently boasting a 4-1 record.

The Sox will also be without their slugger, David Ortiz, who will be sent to the Disabled List (DL) for the first time this season. Ortiz had an MRI on his strained wrist and doctors discovered a partial tear in a tendon sheath. Not good news, and tendons are slow healers. The optimistic expectation is that Papi will be out for two weeks, but could be a month. With Dice-K currently on the DL, the Sox had called up Jeff Bailey from Pawtucket to add some batter power to the bench. Bailey would have been sent back to the PawSox tonight to make room for Masterson. However, with Papi out, the Sox can keep Bailey in Boston, or they could opt for another swap and call up Brandon Moss, who has had success with Boston earlier this season.

We'll find out about those moves prior to tonight's 7:05 start time, which is also last call for the DVD Giveaway Contest! So, if you want a shot at winning this great DVD, get an entry in before the first pitch.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Fenway West said...

Let's hope the Sox can do well at home and regain the lead in the AL East. No need for the rest of you to enter the contest, I have already submitted the winning numbers.

Rooster said...

FW - That's the spirit!

There are a number of entries in for the contest - it will be a battle! Only one female has entered so far, so ladies, if you don't want the guys to walk away with the DVD without a fight, get those entries in quick.

Meanwhile, I got a last minute opportunity to go to tonight's game - in a corporate box! Sweet! I'll give a full report when I recover tomorrow :)

Thank you Jen!!!