69-46: Gagne blown up for four runs; Red Sox rally wasted

The Red Sox thought they were all set. They finally got something going and rallied for five runs in the eighth, and entering the bottom of the frame, they had a 5-1 lead with Eric Gagne on the mound. Everyone’s been saying, give this bullpen a lead after six innings, and it’s over. But it turned out to be far from a sure thing, as Gagne allowed Baltimore to tie it, and a sac fly by Nick Markakis against Hideki Okajima in the ninth won it, 6-5.

For the best bullpen in baseball, the failure to protect a four-run lead in the eighth is shocking. It’s the first time it’s happened all year, Gagne or no. Consider it payback for the game Boston pulled out on Mother’s Day, when they took advantage of an error and scored six runs in the ninth to beat Baltimore.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one run in the first inning on a single by Miguel Tejada. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. He threw 71 of 113 pitches for strikes, and struck out seven, allowing four hits and four walks. Once again, though, his excellent outing went to waste, as the Sox offense struggled.

Oriole starter Erik Bedard pitched 7 2/3 innings of great baseball, allowing just four hits and two walks to the Sox. That’s even more impressive when you consider that one walk and one hit came in the eighth inning. We always have trouble with Bedard, who’s emerging as a premier left-handed pitcher this season. He protected a 1-0 lead until the eighth inning, when a two-out, five run Boston rally was started by, of all people, Wily Mo Pena.

Pena was having a terrible at-bat, but managed to hit a 72 mph curveball on the outside corner off the end of his bat to the left of second base for an RBI single. Julio Lugo tied it when he dragged a bunt past the pitcher for an infield hit to score Jason Varitek. The rally was capped by consecutive two-out RBI singles by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and that seemed to put the game away.

Gagne was on the hill to start the bottom of the eighth. I just don’t know what to say, the velocity is there (94 mph on the fastball, 82 mph on the changeup), he appears to be locating decently, but he’s just not getting the outs. He gave up a double, a single and a walk before he recorded even one out, then gave up a double to DH Aubrey Huff.

Okajima came in and ended the inning, but not before Melvin Mora singled to drive in the tying run. Brian Roberts led off the ninth with a long, ground-rule double to center, and that spelled the end for the Sox.

The loss allowed the Yankees, who just got Phil Hughes back, to draw within 5 games of Boston in the division.

2 Responses to 69-46: Gagne blown up for four runs; Red Sox rally wasted

  1. tsos20 says:

    Don’t get down on Gagne yet. He has a fantastic track rcord. The Yankees wanted him. if the home fans turn on him, it will make it tougher for him and the Red Sox. Have a little loyalty, like Yankee fans showed Rivera earlier in the year. I know Gagne is new to Boston but he has a proven track record. Just chill, dude.
    The Sultan on Sports


  2. donchoi says:

    Hey, thanks for stopping by. I’m not down on him, just couldn’t quite figure out what was the problem. Hope yesterday’s outing is a signal that the struggles are over.

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