49-29: Pitching staff carries Boston over Texas

Why don’t you remove Tim Wakefield (8-8) from the rotation? Because after a bad couple of starts , he can bounce back and give you one like tonight. Wakefield pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run and scattering seven hits and four walks in a 2-1 win. The guy is just a complete pro who takes the ball every fifth day and never loses his cool.

The Boston bullpen logged some quality outs, including a key strikeout of Sammy Sosa by Manny Delcarmen with the bases loaded to end the seventh. Delcarmen is throwing with more authority this time up, which couldn’t come at a better time with Mike Timlin struggling.  Hideki Okajima pitched an efficient goose egg eighth, as he has done so many times already this year, and Jonathan Papelbon came out in the ninth. Win sealed, right? Not tonight.

After overpowering Adam Melhuse and getting Ramon Vazquez to fly out, Papelbon was pestered by Kenny Lofton with a long at-bat with lots of foul balls. Papelbon thought he had him struck out on an inside fastball, but home plate umpire Andy Fletcher disagreed. Then, on a weak nubber to first, the fleet-footed Lofton was ruled safe on a very close play with Papelbon covering first. Paps pretty much exploded here at first base ump Mike Reilly, and would have been ejected if not for a heads up intervention by Dustin Pedroia. It took all 180 pounds of Pedroia to pull Paps back there, I’ll tell you that. Lofton stole second, his fourth stolen base on the night, and did his best to rattle Papelbon. But after falling behind 3-1 and hitting Jerry Hairston Jr., Paps bore down and caught Michael Young looking at strike three for save number 19. That’s a man right there. Young is 0-3 against Papelbon all-time with three strikeouts.

Wakefield was almost matched by Texas starter Jamey Wright (1-2), who gave up two runs over five innings of work. The lefthander did a passable job for a Texas rotation that has the highest ERA in all of baseball this year. But you have to wonder how much of it was him and how much of it was the pathetic Red Sox offense. Eight hits and four walks on the night, but where’s the production? The Sox left 28 men on the basepaths! I’m sorry, but that’s just not acceptable for a playoff team! Someone needs to step up and pick up this offense soon.

Even the go-ahead run barely scored in this one, it was kind of a squeeze grounder, if you will. With men on second and third, Manny Ramirez chopped a ball off Wright’s foot toward third base. Ramon Vazquez grabbed it and waited to tag David Ortiz out to end the threat, but a hustling Kevin Youkilis crossed the plate from third before the tag, making it 2-1. Whew, heart attack over. I’d rather avoid these old-school National League tactics, guys. How about some more offense?


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