25-11: Beckett’s blister resurfaces; Sox come back in the bottom of the 9th

The winning play at 1stThe Sox lost their starter early due to injury, but never gave up. Down 5-0 in the bottom of the ninth, they rallied to score six runs off of Jeremy Guthrie, Danys Baez and closer Chris Ray, stunning the Baltimore Orioles with a last-minute victory.

Julio Lugo grounded out to start the ninth, and Coco Crisp reached on an easy dropped pop-up by catcher Ramon Hernandez, just back off the DL. After starter Guthrie (2-1) had shut out the Sox on three hits for eight and a third innings, manager Sam Perlozzo decided to pull him in favor of a fresh arm. That was the first mistake. Baez gave up a double to David Ortiz and a single to Wily Mo Pena, and Sox fans started to smell a rally. Perlozzo hurriedly brought in closer Chris Ray (16.20 ERA against Boston in 2007 before yesterday), who walked J.D. Drew to load the bases for Kevin Youkilis. Another mistake. Youkilis, known for his plate patience, walked, driving in a run, and Jason Varitek doubled to right in a clutch at-bat. Going for a game-ending double play, the Orioles walked Eric Hinske to get to Alex Cora. Cora grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Youkilis out at the plate, then up stepped Julio Lugo again, two outs, game on the line. He nubbed a grounder right of the mound that first baseman Kevin Millarfielded and tossed slightly behind Ray, who dropped the ball, and the fleet-footed Lugo was safe at first, scoring the tying and winning runs. The final play of the game was pretty ugly, but a win is a win, right?

Baltimore manager Perlozzo was tense in a post-game interview, saying:

[Guthrie] wanted to stay in, but that was definitely my decision. My decision. We didn’t make a couple of plays that we should have. Game should have been over.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

The lineup seems to do well late in games, and the strong performance of our bullpen makes us a comeback team. In 36 GP, we have scored 72 runs in or after the seventh inning, tops in the AL by a good margin. Our bullpen also boasts a sparkling 2.36 ERA in those frames, due in no small part to Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima. Sabermetrics will tell you not to expect those trends to continue, but there’s no telling when or even if those numbers will come back the other way. In the mean time, it’s making for some nice baseball.

Starter Josh Beckett (7-0) had to leave the game after just four innings because of a torn blister on his right middle finger yesterday. He had given up two runs early, then settled down and got to work. It seemed like another routine start for the righty, but the blister put an end to that. This was his shortest start this year by far. The blister is a concern because recurring blisters on his throwing hand limited Beckett’s performance and innings with the Marlins several years ago. He said he would try to make his next start, but I’d expect him to sit one to let the finger heal completely.

Manny Ramirez was pulled from the game in the top of the ninth sue to a tight hamstring. Let’s just hope it’s not a serious injury.


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