Friday, June 13, 2008

Red Sox Home Run Attack Too Much For Orioles

Message to Baltimore - be careful with the walks, they can be costly. In the fifth inning last night, JD Drew continued his hot hitting with a double that moved Jacoby Ellsbury to 3rd base with one out. Manny Ramirez was on deck. Baltimore made the logical move and intentionally walked Manny to set up a possible double play, only to have Mike Lowell step up and launch his second grand slam of the season. His other grand slam was also the result of Manny being intentionally walked in front of him to load the bases. Somehow, intentionally walking Manny always seems like a good idea, but rarely seems to work.
Mike Lowell
Coming in to the game, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and JD Drew were all tied with 9 home runs this season. The grand slam put Lowell in the lead with 10. But, not for long. In the 7th inning, Manny Ramirez walked (not intentionally), Lowell struck out, and Kevin Youkilis blasted a two run home run - tying Lowell at 10 home runs. Well, JD Drew was only waiting for someone to walk in front of him before joining in the fun. He only had to wait one inning. With two outs in the 8th, Dustin Pedroia walked, and JD Drew said, "finally, now it is my turn". JD turned on a pitch and sent it into the right field box seats to pull even with Lowell and Youk. See the pattern? Walk - Home Run, Walk - Home Run, etc.
Kevin Youkilis
All the home run fun allowed Red Sox starter, Jon Lester, to settle in to a solid game, knowing he had runs to work with. No shutout would be required, but Lester chased a shutout into the 6th inning anyway, just to be safe. In the 6th, the Orioles marched double time. Brian Roberts lead off with a double, but Lester got the next two batters out. With two outs, it looked like Roberts would get stranded, until Oscar Salazar roped a double to deep center field, just out of the reach of Coco Crisp, to put the Orioles on the scoreboard. Then, Aubrey Huff, always trouble for the Sox, pulled a shot down the right field line that bounced one and was struck by a fan for a ground rule double. Ramon Hernandez followed with a single, and it looked like Lester might not get out of the inning after all. But, thankfully, he managed to induce Adam Jones to pop out to end the only inning the Orioles would score in.
JD Drew
Terry Francona showed confidence in Lester by sending him back out for the 7th inning. Fans were wondering if the 7th would end up looking like the 6th. But, that was not to be the case, as Lester set the Orioles down 1-2-3. Manny Delcarmen was recruited to handle the 8th inning, and continued his improved pitching with a scoreless inning. With a 9-2 lead at this point, there was no need to tap Jonathan Papelbon, so Francona gave Mike Timlin a shot to show he still has a few good innings left in him. Timlin did not disappoint, only needing 7 pitches to end the game.
Jon Lester
The Sox have had a great home stand, winning 7 out of 9 games, and reclaiming their hold on first place. Tonight, the Sox begin a stretch of Inter-League games, kicking off the first of three games in Cincinnati. There will be no DH in Ohio, so Red Sox fans are praying that Manny Ramirez has recovered from his strained hamstring to head back out to left field, and keep that big bat in the lineup. Inter-league play is certainly different. The Red Sox have not been to Cincinnati sine the 1975 world series! Sox fans will get to see future hall of famer, Ken Griffey, Jr., possibly for the last time. We'll also get to see old friend, Bronson Arroyo. Bronson just pitched for the Reds last night, so unfortunately, we won't get to see him play in these next 3 games.

Justin Masterson will be the Sox starter tonight. With Daisuke Matsuzaka getting close to a return from the DL, this could be Justin's last start for the Sox before heading back to Pawtucket until needed again. Justin will be shooting for an impressive 4th win in 5 spot starts, and will be doing it in front of a few acquaintances! Justin went to high school in Beavercreek, OH, not too far from Cincinnati, and will surely have a few ticket requests sent his way. While Masterson went to high school in Ohio, do you know where he was born? I'll give you a hint, Kingston is the name of the town. No, not Kingston, MA, but that was a good guess. He was actually born in Kingston, Jamaica! Kevin Youkilis also has ties to Ohio. Youk was a star player at the University of Cincinnati. So, see, while the inter-league games seem foreign, they can be more familiar than you thought.

Finally, a huge cheer goes out to the Boston Celtics who kept me up late, just hoping they'd turn a blow out into a close game. They did more than that, executing an historic comeback in defeating the Lakers 97-91 after having been down by 18 points at half time. The Celtics now hold a 3-1 game lead in the best of 7 series. Let's not jinx it with a prediction, but the team from the west coast is just about out of time! Game 5 is on Father's Day (although rather late for some crazy reason). Get ready, get green!

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


gingerly said...

Betcha Lester pitches another no-hitter within a year. He's got it in him.

I always think inter-league play is fun because you get to see the pitchers bat. I wish they always got an at-bat, to tell the truth. Also, I watch NL games too, unlike most AL fans, so I'm happy to see us play their teams. (I saw Wagner blow the last three saves for the Mets. Lord! I was saying, "OMG, OMG, OMG" the whole while. What a nightmare.)

Anyway, good write-up and I'm looking forward to tonight.

Suldog said...

GO CELTS! I can ease myself back into the more relaxed baseball mindset as soon as they wrap it up :-)

Rooster said...

G - I agree - it is especially fun to see AL pitchers suddenly have to bat. I love it when they actually get a hit (like Dice-K last season). Masterson will be interesting to watch bat - he's young, quick reactions. Wonder if they'll let him swing away or just bunt?

Sul - one more, all we need is ONE MORE!

Anonymous said...

And how nice that one more may come on Fathers' Day. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if JD decides to claim that big bat for himself lol.

Fenway West said...

I still can't believe the C's are up 3-1.

The Sox are really doing well with all of the injuries/suspensions, the upside to all of this is they may have fresh pitchers (Dice-K) and Schill down the stretch and Big Papi's knee gets a break.

As for Masterson's AB I would be happy if he gets a foul tip.

Rooster said...

Car - Father's Day would be a fitting time to win!

FW - I had not thought about Papi's knee. Good point! Maybe the knee can get some rest, which will help in the long run!