Sunday, August 31, 2008

Red Sox Show Off Depth in Second Route of White Sox

When David Ortiz was shown the lineup for yesterday's game, he shook his head in mock disgust, and claimed that it was time for him to retire. No, Big Papi was not demoted in the lineup, he was penciled in to bat 3rd, as usual. His surprise was seeing that, batting right behind him in Manny Ramirez' number 4 spot, was Boston's own Mighty Mouse, Dustin Pedroia. Before you start flooding the Red Sox front office with calls for Terry Francona's head on a platter, you need to know two things. First, Kevin Youkilis was forced to miss yesterday's game with a flu-like ailment. With JD Drew and Mike Lowell still on the DL, Tito needed to mix things up a bit. Yes, there are other interesting players to consider for the cleanup spot though. Jason Bay perhaps, or Mark Kotsay maybe? What about Jeff Bailey, one of the best hitters in Pawtucket, called up to help fill in for all the injuries?

Well, that leads us to the second thing you need to know. That is that Dustin Pedroia, in a recent announcement by his agent, completed his contract agreement with the devil himself. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. A photo of the historic deal is provided here.
Dustin Pedroia's Contract with the Devil
Okay, maybe he did not actually sign a contract with the devil (especially a record contract, like the one in the photo), but you can't prove he didn't, can you? How else can you explain Pedroia, all 5' 9" of him, suddenly raking the ball with impunity? The day before, Dustin went 4 for 4 with a double and a walk, and he simply went out yesterday and repeated the exact same feat! He has reached base safely in his last ten plate appearances! Not only is he beyond hot, but he somehow swayed the manager to bat his diminutive frame in the cleanup spot, a lifelong dream, no doubt, and something only the devil would be able to accomplish. You can picture the devil (imagine the part being played by Scott Boras and it is pretty easy) waltzing into Francona's office like a mafia boss. "Tito, my friend, you remember how we helped you beat the Yankees in 2004 when the outcome appeared hopeless? We said one day we would ask you for a favor. Well, my friend, today is that day." See, that explains it all!

Michael BowdenBut, let's not let all this devil talk overshadow the fantastic major league debut of yet ANOTHER minor league prospect who took advantage of his opportunity to shine. Michael Bowden took the mound yesterday, filling in for Josh Beckett, and completed a day to remember. He must have had a good dose of butterflies in his stomach, but it did not show. He walked Orlando Cabrera to start the game, and probably thought, "uh oh". But, when the next batter grounded into a double play, he surely breathed a sigh of relief and knew this would turn out to be a good day.

Remember, this is a 21 year old kid, facing some historic MLB hitters; Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Quentin. He kept his composure, pitched like a big league pitcher, and gave the Red Sox what they needed, 5 solid innings. After 5 innings, Bowden had given up 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk, struck out 3, and left with a 5-2 lead. In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox scored two more runs to help out his mind at ease that the lead would last. Bowden had only thrown 89 pitches, but I think Tito did not want to push it too far. I think Terry felt, if Bowden leaves now, he is uplifted and excited with his first major league game and should surely get a win. But, if he goes back out there, we run the risk of having him get knocked around and put a chink in his confidence. So, that was it for Bowden, who is currently on the Buccholz track - get a few spot starts in September to get your feet wet, them come back to Spring Training and complete for a regular starting job.

The Rays won, yet again, so the AL East battle remains at status quo, the Rays holding their 4 1/2 game lead. The Yankees, however, let one slip through their fingers in a 7-6 loss to Toronto. The loss puts the pinstripers 7 games back in the Wild Card race. Not looking good for them. The Twins also lost yesterday, increasing the Red Sox' lead in the Wild Card to 3 1/2 games over the Twins. But, another win over Chicago today could create another flip flop in the Central Division. The White Sox are only 1/2 game ahead of the Twins. The playoff picture out west is not very interesting. The Angels are going to be the Division Champions, and that's it.

This afternoon, we'll see how Tim Wakefield does in his second start after coming off the DL. His last one was a successful outing against the Yankees, and today he faces a good pitcher in Gavin Floyd, who is 14-6 with a 3.70 ERA. Floyd has never pitched at Fenway Park. He is 1-0 against the Red Sox, but he did give up 5 runs in the process, squeezing out a 6-5 victory. Beautiful day for a ballgame, so let's get out there and warm up those brooms!

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)

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