26-12: Tigers return the favor, 7-2

Tim Wakefield (4-4) had to return to earth sometime. In his least spectacular start of 2007, Wakefield still went seven innings, giving up 5 runs. Still, he only walked one batter, continuing to show very good control overall. The knuckleballer’s career walk rate is 3.5 BB/9 innings, but in his last three starts he’s only walked 5 batters in 21 innings. And four of those runs came in a bad third inning where he gave up two home runs. All in all, it was not a terrible outing.

Justin Verlander stymies SoxBut the Red Sox bats just couldn’t get it started last night. Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (4-1) kept the Red Sox off-balance all night. Throwing strikes early, he was able to turn in 7 2/3 strong innings. The young righty has a plus fastball in the mid-to-high 90s, and a very good curve and changeup to complement that. Verlander’s performances helped to key the Tigers run in last year’s playoffs.

Brendan Donnelly came on in the eighth, but couldn’t stop the bleeding, and the game was already gone. The Sox threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Eric Hinske doubled and Coco Crisp reached on a pitcher’s error, but Doug Mirabelli popped out to end the threat.

J.D. Drew's collisionOutfielder J.D. Drew ran into the wall in right full speed trying to save Brandon Inge’s home run in the third (see picture, ouch!), and later left the game with a bruised back after the seventh inning. Here’s hoping the oft-injured outfielder is still healthy.

Kevin Youkilis is swinging a wicked hot bat. He is 18 for his last 38 (.474 BA), getting on base at an incredible .500 clip during that span, and was the only Red Sox to register two hits in last night’s contest. He raised his season average to .333, and shows no signs of slowing down. Let’s hope he can keep it up, unlike last year, when he faded down the stretch (.297/.407/.467 pre-ASB, .258/.347/.381 post-ASB in 2006).


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