Saturday, September 6, 2008

Red Sox Continue Moving Up

Cue the theme music from 'The Jeffersons', because the Sox are 'Movin' On Up'! Toronto, yet again, wins a meaningful game for the Red Sox with a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay. That, combined with the Red Sox' 8-1 victory over the Rangers last night puts the home town team only 2 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East. In the Wild Card, the Twins pulled out a win to remain 5 1/2 behind Boston, while the Yankees find themselves on a slippery slope.

You heard it here first (well, probably not if you have crazy fanatic Red Sox friends). The Yankees are officially eliminated from the 2008 playoffs! Okay, I know they are not "mathematically" eliminated, but last night, in the thick of their last chance at making a run for a playoff spot, the lost (3-1) to the (get this) Seattle Mariners! Yes, the same Mariners who are in last place, already actually eliminated from the playoffs, and with nothing left to do but play out the string. The loss puts the Yanks 8 1/2 games back for the Wild Card, and in my book, they are done. That loss sealed the deal for me. The next 21 games are going to be painful for pinstripe fans, and we in Boston all feel true sympathy for you (NOT).

Josh BeckettNow, yesterday I said I was worried about last night's game, and I truly was. Kevin Millwood is Texas' best starter, and Josh Beckett is fresh off the DL. You know the rest of the story from yesterday, but I also said the new guys returning could be the difference maker to ensure the win. That turned out to the Mike Lowell who made his presence felt the most. After three innings, Josh Beckett was pitching a no-hitter with 4 strikeouts, and Millwood was trying to keep pace. Millwood had only given up two hits through 3 innings, but one of them was Mike Lowell announcing his return with a solo home run in the 2nd inning.

In the fourth inning, an error and a double by Jason Bay put runners at second and third. Mike Lowell just barely stayed with a tricky off-speed curve ball, got the sweet spot of the bat on the ball, and lofted a looping line drive single to left field to drive in two more runs. Mike Lowell 3, Texas 0. That was enough to rattle Millwood. He proceeded to walk Jed Lowrie and gave up a single to Jason Varitek. Then, Coco Crisp sends (appropriately) a Texas Leaguer out to center field, and it goes off the glove of second baseman, Joaquin Arias (who had also made the error earlier in the inning), to allow two more runs to score.

Mike LowellBack to back triples in the 6th inning were fun to watch. First Coco Crisp hit one to score Varitek, then Jacoby Ellsbury hit one to score Coco. For a second there, I thought Ellsbury was going to have a shot at an inside the park homer with his speed.

Josh Beckett exceeded expectations (and pitch count). He went 5 innings, and threw 80 pitches, only giving up 4 hits to go with 7 strikeouts and no walks. Exceeding his pitch count limitations is a good sign. It means he felt strong, solid, and confident. Because of that, he was throwing like he was last season. Having Beckett get hot in time for the playoffs could spell doom for the rest of the AL.

The Sox bullpen did a nice job as Manny Delcarmen pitched two perfect innings to extend the game to the 8th inning. Justin Masterson got two quick outs in the 8th, but walked two straight batters after that. He managed to induce a ground ball out to end the threat and turn the game over to Hideki Okajima in the 9th. Mike Lowell had just doubled in the top of the inning to drive in Jason Bay from first base, and record his 4th RBI of the evening! So, Oki had a nice 8-0 lead to work with. He got the lead off batter to line out, then gave up a walk and a single to put two men on. He struck out Brandon Boggs for the second out, and had a 1-2 count on Nelson Cruz before watching him send a single to left to score the Rangers first and only run of the night. Oki struck out Gerald Laird to end the ball game.

So, the Sox go at it again tonight, and are thankfully on the road and missing the storm passing through Boston. Tim Wakefield will face off against Matt Harrison. Harrison has yet to face the Red Sox, and is not nearly the threat that Millwood is. But, if my sentiments yesterday helped at all with the win, then I'll have to repeat them today. I have a bad feeling about this one...

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Fenway West said...

This is the second time you have used a 70's TV reference in your post, what show are we getting next? How about some Dukes of Hazard? I hope you have a bad feeling about tonight's game and can also have a bad feeling about every game for the rest of the season. Another great post, keep up the good work.

Rooster said...

I tried to fake the bad feeling yesterday, but you cannot fool the Fates so easily. I'll just have to go back to wearing my lucky shirt, and all that.

I never watched much Dukes of Hazzard, but maybe an obscure Grape Ape reference is due.