38-25: Sox reclaim 1st with sweep of the Rays

Tampa has become a pretty solid team, but I still think it’s clear who the best team in the AL East is. The Red Sox completed another three-game sweep of the Rays at Fenway, running their winning streak at home to 13 games and retaking the lead in the division.

Game 1: Boston 7, Tampa Bay 4

Justin Masterson (2-0) turned in another strong start. Even though the numbers weren’t as great as the other two, he threw quality pitches in this one. He fanned five and walked just two over six innings. What a workhorse! He gives you six good innings every start! Both Jason Varitek and Terry Francona complimented him on the sharpness of his slider tonight.

Mike Lowell, an expert at utilizing Fenway Park’s Green Monster, homered to give the Sox a 2-1 lead, and J.D. Drew also hit a long one to right in the 4th. After Jason Varitek singled to tie the game in the 6th, Coco Crisp gave the Sox the go-ahead run with an RBI double off the wall. I didn’t know he could hit it that far going opposite field, and that’s good to see.

Don’t look now, but the bullpen (outside of Hideki Okajima) is putting together a lot of good innings lately. In fact, none of the other relievers has been scored on since Mike Timlin gave up the walkoff single in Seattle, and the bullpen has a collective 1.90 ERA in 23 2/3 IP since the beginning of that series, May 26. Take out Okajima’s 4-run performance the other night, and it has been seriously lights out.

Carlos Pena suffered a broken finger after being hit with a pitch early in the game; that still didn’t stop him from doubling and homering tonight.

Game 2: Boston 5, Tampa Bay 1

Josh Beckett (6-4) was in strike-throwing form, and pitched six very strong innings, allowing one run on seven hits. No walks, though he seemed to miss the corners a lot towards the end. Beckett did slip on the wet mound in the 6th, prompting a visit from the training staff. The bullpen continued its streak of goodness, with three scoreless frames. Manny Delcarmen struck out the side in the 7th, and Hideki Okajima needed a lot of pitches, but got through the 8th, striking out two. Craig Hansen pitched a clean 9th on just 10 pitches to seal the deal, his second strong outing in a row.

The Sox scored three runs in the 2nd off of Edwin Jackson (3-5) on the strength of a some clustered hits, including a long ground-rule double to right by J.D. Drew. That’s a home run in more than a few ballparks. Dustin Pedroia apparently hit a home run just inside the Pesky Pole in the first, only to have it ruled a foul ball. Frustrating for him, but at least it didn’t affect the outcome of this one.

After stealing second base, Coco Crisp made a baserunning error in the 6th when he put his head down and rounded third on an infield single by Jacoby Ellsbury. He thought it went through the infield, but Jason Bartlett, who had no play at first or third, simply threw to third to get Crisp. Crisp later slid hard into second base on a stolen base attempt in the 8th, prompting some stares from Rays players and a word or two from Joe Maddon. Crisp was upset about Bartlett putting his knee down in front of the bag earlier, when Crisp stole second and sprained his thumb as a result.

Manny Ramirez continues to DH, as he’s having some leg soreness or something like that.

Game 3: Boston 7, Tampa Bay 1

Jon Lester (4-3) came up big after being spotted an early 3-0 lead. 6 1/3 innings on 109 pitches is average for him, but he issued zero walks, which is great for him. He scattered 8 hits and allowed just one run, striking out 5 Rays with average stuff but good command.

Coco Crisp‘s residual anger boiled over in the 2nd inning when starter James Shields (4-4) hit him on the leg with a changeup, and he charged the mound, clearing both bullpens and getting both himself and Shields ejected (I guess Crisp won’t be traded to Tampa). That worked out fairly well for Boston, who extended the lead on Tampa’s bullpen to 7-1, where it would stay. I say fairly well, because after Jacoby Ellsbury rolled his wrist on a diving catch in the 4th, we ended up fielding an outfield of Kevin Youkilis in right, J.D. Drew in center and Chris Carter in left. Carter went 2-3 with two singles off the bench, his first big league hits.

The anger continued to seethe under the surface, as a total of five hitters were plunked in this one altogether. Is this for real? A Red Sox-Rays rivalry?

Manny Ramirez golfed one of his patented shots into the Landsdowne parking lot in the first, making it 3-0, and contributed a bases-loaded single in the 4th to drive in two more. The other guy to come up big in Papi’s absence is Drew. He’s really stepped up his game offensively and defensively in this series, and has done a tremendous job in that #3 hole. Just get on and let Manny be Manny.

One thing I hope is not an issue; Manny and Youk were seen going at each other in the dugout near the end of the 4th inning. They had to be physically separated. Knowing how intense Youkilis is, and how relaxed Manny tends to be, it was probably something said that didn’t sit well. Ramirez seemed to tweak his knee/hamstring in the 7th in an at-bat, and was lifted for Kevin Cash. Let’s hope that this doesn’t mean we’ll be without both pieces of our dynamic duo.


3 Responses to 38-25: Sox reclaim 1st with sweep of the Rays

  1. Pat says:

    Thursday night’s game was very ominous. A lot of interesting tidbits came up that might turn into serious consequences later on. Hopefully we will forget that Manny’s hamstrings are bothering him, that he and Youkilis got into an argument, and that Ellsbury sprained his wrist. Not to mention Big Papi’s wrist.

    Our pitching makes any bumps in our offense easier to take. Also, our very impressive roster flexibility and depth make injuries and suspensions more manageable.

    Carter got sent down and Moss up to take his place. I am very high on Brandon Moss, and am predicting he will contribute a lot for us down the stretch like Ellsbury did last year.

    Our schedule looks to be pretty easy for awhile, so hopefully we will manage to make some hay in Papi’s absence. I have faith.

  2. johnson says:

    So once again, we seem the true colors of the REDSOX shine. Red Sox and Red Sox fans have been the biggest racists. They love you when you are helping them win. But the minute you jump on one of the Good Ole Boys, well you are labeled a gangster/thug. Imagine the Red Sox without Manny/Papi. We’ll see hope long Manny nursing his injury!!! Good job Youk!!!

  3. redsoxtalk says:

    Hi Johnson, sorry but I think I missed what your point on racism above was. Care to rephrase for our readers?

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