15-7: Ellsbury, Pedroia lead in comeback win against the Halos, 7-6

On the first warm night in Fenway, David Pauley was called in to make an emergency start for Josh Beckett, who was pulled for “neck stiffness”. There isn’t much detail about how serious the injury is, but it is being said that Beckett has the flu bug that’s been going around. On a night when the Sox offense generated 7 runs on 16 hits and a walk, he was good enough that the Sox pulled it out yet again for their 6th straight win, 7-6.

Pauley was alright tonight, and had his stuff working, but his control was shaky at times, and the Angels took advantage. He ended with an ugly line, but did better than it indicated. He got into a no-outs, bases loaded jam in the 3rd, and was unable to get Garret Anderson for the last out. Later Pauley left a fastball up to Jeff Mathis, who hit it over the Monster in the 4th for two more runs. Still, he showed good composure and was able to throw all of his pitches with some consistency, especially early. He really has to avoid elevating his stuff in the zone, because he doesn’t have overpowering pitches.

Jered Weaver almost struck out Jacoby Ellsbury on a 2-2 fastball, but catcher Jeff Mathis dropped the ball on a foul-tick. Weaver was greeted by a long home run by to right field on the very next pitch; Ellsbury is not known for his power, but took that changeup for a ride. Dustin Pedroia followed with a long double, and this had all the earmarks of a blowout. But on a David Ortiz grounder, Pedroia was caught between second and third in a run down, which kind of killed the rally. Weaver has good stuff (if not a strange pitching motion), and he locked it down until the bottom of the 4th.

Pedroia doubled again to lead off the 5th, and Big Papi managed another “infield single” against the shift, scoring him. After Manny Ramirez lined out, Kevin Youkilis went deep with a Monster shot, tying the game at 5 apiece.

Julian Tavarez did a solid job in relief, getting a double play ball out of Torii Hunter to end the 5th inning and holding Los Angeles scoreless for 1 2/3 innings. He did start the 7th with consecutive singles, however, and so Hideki Okajima was brought in. He got through the toughest part of the order, but gave up a solo home run to Casey Kotchman to start the 8th, which knotted the game at 6-6. Okajima didn’t appear to have his best command tonight, and surrendered a two-out double to Erick Aybar, which prompted Francona to bring in Mike Timlin (2-1) to get Chone Figgins.

Ellsbury homered for the second time with two outs in the bottom of the 6th, a shot to right which broke a 5-5 deadlock and gave Boston the lead. After the game was tied at 6-6, Ellsbury played the hero once again in the 8th, dragging a bunt past Darren Oliver (1-1) to get on with one out. Kotchman was playing the bunt n the first pitch, but then moved back when Ellsbury didn’t show bunt. Setup man Scot Shields came on to face Pedroia, but pitched out and then couldn’t stop throwing over to first, drawing boos from the crowd. Clearly his mind was not on his pitching, and he left a 2-1 fastball up, which Pedey promptly shot down the 3rd base line, all the way into the very corner of Fenway Park. That’s all Ellsbury needed to score from first to make it 7-6, and set up the victory.

Jonathan Papelbon came out with something to prove tonight. He was throwing 98-99 mph fastballs, and even touched 100 on a swing-and-miss outside heater to Vladimir Guerrero. No one was going to smack so much as a loud foul tonight, and he made short work of the Angels for his 8th save on the year.
This Red Sox team is unbelievable. Another comeback in the 8th inning to win their sixth straight game? You have got to be kidding me. You really have to respect the way these guys play the game. The starters and the bullpen are taking turns being heroes, and the whole team seems to be hitting .300, with the exceptions of Papi and Kevin Cash.

I’d also like to recognize Julio Lugo, who after a pretty bad start, is looking very sharp at shortstop these days. He’s gobbling up balls and making good throws to first.

You gotta love that Ellsbury-Pedroia 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup, right? How can you not like the energy Ellsbury brings, and the mental toughness of Pedroia, who continues to outperform everyone’s expectations? They went a combined 7-10 tonight with three doubles, two homers and a stolen base (which was not by who you would think). They were responsible for 4 of the Sox’ 7 runs, and drove in three. The ability of the Sox farm to graduate these kinds of players every year is why we are where we are.

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