58-39: Gabbard shows finesse, Crisp powers the offense again

The Red Sox won yesterday, 11-2 at Fenway, and it felt really good. The final score doesn’t really reflect what kind of game it was, but it was kind of a pitcher’s duel for six innings.

Rookie Kason Gabbard (4-0) is pitching like a veteran stud these days. In his second straight strong outing, Gabbard pitched seven innings, allowing one run on just three hits and a walk. He used only 86 pitches, throwing 51 for strikes. He is keeping his pitches down in the zone and inducing ground balls effectively (he got 15 in this one).

Highly touted rookie John Danks (6-7) also pitched well for the White Sox, but suffered from some control outages in the second and the sixth that led to four runs. Then everything changed in the seventh inning.

The Sox lineup posted seven runs in the bottom of the 7th, the biggest single inning they’ve managed this year. They last had a seven run rally in the third inning of a game against Adam Loewen and the Orioles on August 11, 2006. Most of the rally happened with two outs, as Eric Hinske had singled to lead off the inning, then stolen second base while two men struck out. Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked, then Kevin Youkilis was unintentionally walked to fill them up. New reliever Boone Logan was brought in to face J.D. Drew, who walked in a run. Then Dewon Day proceeded to walk Mike Lowell AND Jason Varitek, and you knew something good was about to happen. Coco Crisp, for the second straight game, came up big and singled up the middle, scoring two, and then Hinske, who started the inning, tripled to clear the bases. Wow. Julio Lugo had the dubious distinction of striking out twice in the same inning.

The lineup made a strong showing, drawing nine walks on the night. They chased a pretty decent lefty after six innings, and just tore that bullpen apart, kudos. This White Sox bullpen is atrocious. Once again, a World Series champ dismantled and forgotten.

Even though he tops out at around 91 mph and usually works in the mid-80s, Gabbard is taking a lot of the pressure off the Red Sox at a time when Curt Schilling is resting on the DL. It enables them to take their time with Schilling, and avoids any premature callups for Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz. I have to believe that when Schilling returns in another two weeks, Gabbard has earned the fifth spot, and Julian Tavarez will be sent packing, either to the bullpen or another team.

After the game, Dustin Pedroia effused about Crisp, saying that, “defensively, he’s the best centerfielder in baseball”. I’ll agree that he’s come a long way, but I think there might be a couple of guys named Suzuki, Hunter and Sizemore (Jones and Granderson are also pretty good, too) who might have something to say on that subject. Pedroia probably needs to keep quiet on such matters, especially as a rookie.


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