61-40: Carmona, Indians return the favor 1-0

Just two nights ago, C.C. Sabathia was denied win #14, despite a stellar pitching performance. Last night, the Indians returned the favor, winning 1-0.

Josh Beckett (13-4) pitched perhaps his best game of 2007, going the distance on 114 pitches,  and allowing just four hits and no walks. The only blemish was solo home run by Franklin Gutierrez in the third inning. Beckett was angry with himself for that one, admitting with disgust after the game that it was a fastball right down the middle.

Fausto Carmona (13-4) was looking forward to this one. Last year, in a trial as closer, he had two ninth inning meltdowns against the Sox in two consecutive games, resulting in two blown saves. When he blew another one in his next outing, he was removed from the role permanently. This time, it was all different. Commanding to both sides of the plate, Carmona held the Sox to four hits and two walks in eight shutout innings.

The sometimes uneven Joe Borowski came in and closed it out with authority, striking out Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia.

The Boston bats did have a couple of chances, the most notable being a play in the sixth inning that saw Coco Crisp get thrown out at the plate to end the inning. After Alex Cora‘s line drive to third was barely snagged by Casey Blake, Crisp reached on a soft grounder up the middle. Dustin Pedroia moved him out with a ground out, and David Ortiz hit a grounder towards second base that, because of the defensive shift, allowed Ortiz to reach safely. Second baseman Josh Barfield hesitated a little bit, but Crisp rounded third and broke for the plate. Apparently thinking there wasn’t going to be a play at the plate, Crisp slowed up the last 20 feet or so, just enough for him to be thrown out and end the inning. There has been some criticism that Manny Ramirez wasn’t doing his job from the on deck circle, but come on, why slow down?

In the top of the eighth with one out, Jason Varitek was on first. Cora missed the signal for hit and run, so Varitek was picked off easily. I don’t expect that kind of rookie mistake from someone like Cora, who is reputed to be a great baseball mind. Maybe Francona should have used Julio Lugo to pinch-run for Varitek or pinch-hit for Cora, but it’s all moot now, isn’t it?


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