9-6: Sox victimize Indians bullpen again, 5-3


For the second straight game, Boston staged a 9th inning victory against the Cleveland bullpen en route to a 5-3 victory at Jacobs Field. In a matchup of veteran pitchers, Tim Wakefield and Paul Byrd both turned in very strong six-inning outings, but both ended up with no-decisions, as the bullpens decided this one.

Wakefield did not have his best stuff, allowing 7 hits and 4 walks, but managed to scatter them enough to limit the Indians to two runs over 6 IP. He threw 66 of 106 pitches for strikes, and continued to work well with personal catcher Kevin Cash (there was only one wild pitch in this game).

The Red Sox continued their struggles against starting pitching; it isn’t that they’re not getting on base, but they’re just having trouble scoring in the early going. They have scored only 35 runs in innings 1-6 of games this season, ranking 23rd out of 30 Major League teams, and are hitting just .257/.332/.364 as a team in those innings. They managed six hits off of Byrd, but only one unearned run, when Jacoby Ellsbury took second base on a bad throw by Franklin Gutierrez.

In his Major League debut, Jed Lowrie went 1-4 and drove in all of the first three runs for the Sox. It may not have been pretty, but he got the job done with an RBI fielder’s choice in the 5th and a two-run infield single in the 7th.

Javier Lopez looked like he got rattled a bit after hitting Travis Hafner; he then walked Victor Martinez in the 7th. Manny Delcarmen came on and walked the bases loaded, then hit Ryan Garko with a pitch to force in the go-ahead run at the time. Not good. I wonder whether he was properly warmed up at the time; some people have brought up Francona being a little slow to warm up his bullpen at times.. David Aardsma (1-1) was the pitcher of record, despite getting just one out.

With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 9th, Jason Varitek pinch-hit for Cash with one out and pulled a Jensen Lewis (0-1) pitch out to left field for the go-ahead run, his third homer on the year. That heavy bat of his carries a lot of power when he makes contact. For the second straight game, Coco Crisp was playing centerfield and leading off. He went 1-5 with two strikeouts, singling after Varitek’s go-ahead home run in the top of the 9th. Dustin Pedroia doubled to center, and after David Ortiz popped out, they intentionally walked Manny Ramirez. They obviously learned their lesson last night. But Kevin Youkilis made them pay for the gamble, singling home another run. Like I’ve been saying, he’s a valuable hitter in that #5 hole because he’s a very tough out.

With usual closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable, Hideki Okajima came on and down the Indians 1-2-3 for his first save.

To be fair, the Indians weren’t working with their best bullpen; closer Joe Borowski was placed on the DL with a strained triceps (plus a wee case of Manny being Manny), and Rafael Betancourt was unavailable after two consecutive outings. I was kind of hoping to see Masahide Kobayashi pitch; maybe next time.

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