Thursday, June 26, 2008

Red Sox Take 2 of 3 From Arizona

The Red Sox are still holding their own against the NL in inter league play. In May they swept the Brewers in a 3 game series, and in June they have won 2 out of 3 games from Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and now Arizona. In all three of those series they lost the first game, but managed to win the next two. Only the St. Louis Cardinals were able to win a 3 game series against the Red Sox, taking two out of their three games in Fenway Park. The Sox will wrap up inter league play for 2008 with a 3 game set in Houston against the Astros. With their inter league record at 10-5, they are ensured a winning record against NL teams for the regular season, which is not bad considering the caliber of teams they had to face.
Tim Wakefield
Last night was a throw back look to the old days as the pitching match up featured old time foe, Randy Johnson, facing off against Tim Wakefield. Both pitchers are getting on in years, but both are still effective. Johnson has always been notoriously difficult on left handed batters, and managers will try and stack up as many right handed batters in the lineup as possible when facing Johnson. The problem for Terry Francona is that his current outfield depth chart features 3 left handed batters (JD Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brandon Moss). Manny Ramirez bats right handed, but Manny was on DH duty in Big Papi's absence. The final outfielder is Coco Crisp, who is a switch hitter. So, no matter what, two out of the Red Sox' three outfielders would be lefties. Francona opted to give JD Drew a night off, which is a good idea. Drew had been completely on fire for most of June, but has started to cool off, and a couple of days off (with the off-day today), might be just the thing to reignite that fire.

Randy JohnsonRandy Johnson pitched a fine game, but ironically, the only two runs he allowed were both driven in by the left handed Brandon Moss. In the 2nd inning, with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd base, Moss hit a weak ground ball to second base for a force out, but Mike Lowell was able to score from third on the play. Then, in the 6th inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Moss got a good piece of the bat on the ball and sent a fly deep enough to right center field for a sacrifice fly to put Boston up 2-0. That was all Wakefield really needed as he completely baffled the Diamondbacks the entire game. Through 7 innings Wake only allowed 3 base runners, a single in the 3rd, a walk in the 5th, and a double in the 7th. The Diamondbacks just did not know what to do with the crafty knuckleballer.

Kevin Cash homersKevin Cash connected for a 3 run home run, his first of the season, off of reliever, Juan Cruz, in the 8th inning to buy the Sox some insurance. They almost had to "cash" in on that insurance in the ninth inning when Craig Hansen got himself into a two out, bases loaded jam, thanks to a single and two walks. Francona was too uncomfortable with the situation and called on Jonathan Papelbon to nail the game down, which he did by throwing nothing but fastballs to Chad Tracy, striking him out swinging at the 5th one.

So, the Sox are now headed south to Houston, hanging on to a one game lead over the tenacious Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox need to dispatch the Astros quickly, and decisively, because they then head to Tampa for three games that will be another battle with the Rays for rights to first place. It may also be a chance for bad feelings to be re-ignited. Do not be surprised if Coco Crisp begins serving his suspension for his part in the brawl with Tampa Bay in time to miss out on this series. While Coco is a valuable player, Francona would be just as happy to reduce the chances to stir up any further violence between the two clubs.

P.S. The headline on Yahoo Sports, "Wakefield Beats Johnson" is just not right!

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


the blue state blogger said...

Poor Wake. Even in winning, he loses. I wonder if Yahoo! did that on purpose...

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Rooster said...

BSB - I did a double take when I saw the headline. I'm sure someone must have known what they were doing.

Hope Manny gets that hammy healed. That injury is draggin out too long!

Suldog said...

Loved seeing Wake outduel Randy. Subtlety wins!

Rooster said...

Sul - I agree. They have had a history of good head to head matchups too, including a 1-0 game when RJ was with the Yankees. Totally different styles though.

Peter N said...

And Daisuke comes back in game one on friday. That's SO great, Roost!