Sunday, May 4, 2008

Red Sox Douse the Rays' Beacon

Last week the Red Sox got swept for the first time in the history of the universe by the team from Florida formerly known as the Devil Rays. When the final out of that sweep was recorded, the newly named Rays blared Fenway's beloved song, "Sweet Caroline", throughout Tropicana Field. Touche! But, the newly named "Rays" are apparently a beacon that only radiates across Florida and does not shine brightly enough to reach all the way to Boston. This allowed the Red Sox to pay back the Rays in full with a sweep of their own in friendly Fenway Park. I was hoping the Sox could return the "Sweet Caroline" ribbing, but the Rays simply don't have any distinction or character to make fun of. So, we'll just have to settle for taking 3 wins from the Rays this weekend, and showing them that the Champs are not going to step aside quietly and let some upstart "light beams" settle into first place.

As a regular visitor to this site, do you find it just a little bit creepy that the day after I publish a Batman-oriented post, a fan is shown on TV at the game during the 2nd inning wandering through the Fenway crowd in a head-to-toe, full-blown, Batman costume? Must be a big Rational Sox Fan!

Jon Lester had a very solid game. Remember, this guy is young, missed significant time to win a battle with cancer, and is still trying to invent himself as a top notch big league pitcher. He continued his growth yesterday going 6 innings allowing only one run on a solo homer to Carlos Pena in the 6th inning. He threw 112 pitches, which is a few too many for 6 innings, but he only allowed 4 hits and 3 walks to go with 5 strike outs, which all combines for a good outing.

While it is exciting that the Red Sox swept, they had to do it with yet another lineup adjustment. Brandon Moss is out, having had sudden emergency appendectomy surgery Saturday night (he's fine now and out of the hospital), and the Sox decided to wait to make a move to fill his vacancy. Then prior to this game, David Ortiz' recently operated on knee was experiencing too much stiffness, and they decided to give Papi the night off. This moved Manny Ramirez into the DH role, while Jacoby Ellsbury played left, Coco Crisp played center, and JD Drew took his usual spot in right. The bench was very bare with only Jed Lowrie and Kevin Cash available. We really do need to get Alex Cora back!

The lineup adjustment resulted in the Red Sox fielding arguably the fastest outfield in Boston history. That speed made itself known right away as Jacoby Ellsbury chased down a fly ball to left center that Manny never would have had a shot at. Ellsbury continued flashing his speed as he beat out an infield single to lead off the Sox half of the first inning. And when was the last time you recall the Red Sox performing a double steal? Well, yesterday they completed, not one, but TWO double steals in the game!

Kevin Youkilis was the offensive hero of the day. Batting third in front of Manny Ramirez may have allowed him to see some good pitches, and when he saw them, he hit them! Youk went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a solo home run, and 4 runs batted in. Manny also contributed on offense with an RBI double off the green monster, but remains stuck at 496 career home runs. It never seems easy for players as they approach those historic milestones, but fear not, those home runs are coming.

Now, you recall I mentioned Lester only gave up one run. The Sox won 7-3, so where did those other two runs come from? In disturbing fashion, Manny Delcarmen came into the game and once again looked all-too-hittable. Francona has had a short leash on Delcarmen, which has proven to be wise, and yesterday was no exception. Manny got the first batter out on a groundout, but followed that up with a single to Jason Bartlett and a triple, that Coco Crisp dove for and missed by mere inches as he banged his knee up in the process, to Akinori Iwamura scoring one run. Hideki Okajima was called in has been pitching reasonably well, and rarely gets tagged with an earned run, but he has been much less stingy with inherited runners scoring. Okajima allowed a single to the first batter he faced allowing the Rays' third run to score, but then he settled in to pair up with Jonathan Papelbon to secure the win.

Sox land in Detroit today and will send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound to face Jeremy Bonderman. The Red Sox should fare well against Detroit, but I do worry about the bench depth. With Moss out, the Sox have opted to call up Craig Hanson, a pitcher. This does help the bull pen out, and gives Hanson an opportunity for add to his big league experience, but Terry still has to squeeze blood from a stone when it comes to lineup substitutions. This could cause trouble, especially with guys like Crisp diving all over the field. Let's stay healthy!


Anonymous said...

Lol @ Batman must be a big rational sox fan - and if he's not (his loss ;) it was an eerie coincidence!

Boy did those Sox go with two double steals yesterday! Sweep revenge complete =)

Rooster said...

It was kind of eerie!

I was at a couple of games this week and we had an opportunity or two for double steals but they never happened. We joked about the Sox actually doing double steals - and then yesterday 2 of them!

Hope they fare well in Detroit!

Peter N said...

One, and one only question. Were you the guy behind the mask? Bruce Wayne, AKA Rooster???HOLY RED SOX WIN! I loved your post...hi SC!!