I never really considered this to be a game. The Devil Rays are the Devil Rays and Josh Beckett is Josh Beckett, you do the math. Were the fireworks at the esplanade on the fourth or at Fenway on the fifth? I couldn't tell. The sox put up 15 runs setting a new season high and everything after the first inning was no more than a formality and a chance for the sox to bolster their batting numbers. Beckett ate a few innings pitching for contact and efficiency giving up some harmless runs in the process on the way to this game mercifully being brought to an end. The Red Sox take their 4 game winning streak into Detroit to face the still potent Detroit Tigers in a 3 game series before putting 6 All Stars on display in San Francisco. The Rays drag their 11 Game losing streak into Kansas City and hope to snap this streak against one of the few teams in the same category of terrible as the Rays themselves.
One of the major factors that cause experts to call the AL East a lock is the nature of the Sox's 2nd half schedule. 75 Games left, 15 (that's 20%) of those games are against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the team with the worst record in the AL, the team currently on an 11 game losing streak, the team that just got swept in 3 games by the sox including the embarrassing rout last night. The schedule beyond that is also somewhat unimpressive with only 20 Games against teams with records above .500 (4 v. Twins (.512), 2 v. A's (.518), 4 v. Indians (.600), 3 v. Seattle (.561) and 7 v. Angels (.612)). I'm a superstitious man at heart, so all I will say is that the Yankees certainly have their work cut out for them to catch the Sox in the second half.
I really shouldn't post this information, but I've devised a really great strategy for slowing down the Red Sox offensive production.....ok......wanna know what it is......? If you've got two outs and open bases, walk the bases loaded and pitch to Julio Lugo, and by pitch to, I mean throw strikes, I have NEVER seen such a bad hitter draw so many walks. I'm personally very put off by this whole situation regarding Julio Lugo's slump. When Lugo was still in his hitless streak he suggested that fans should not be on his back because the team was still winning. Yeah, we're winning, but no thanks to you. I personally hate that kind of attitude from a slumping player. I also hate this "the slump is over" attitude ever since Julio broke his hitless streak. It's not as though Julio is now swinging the hot bat, carrying the Boston offense and making a serious run at matching his career numbers. He's managed to get a few hits against one of the worst teams in baseball. Last night everybody with more than two AB's managed to put up at least two hits.....except Julio Lugo of course. The way I see it Julio's got a long way to go to get out of the doghouse.
Jacoby Ellsbury's time in the big leagues seemed to prove emphatically that he does indeed have what it takes to play at the big club hitting .375 going 6 for 16 and drawing two walks and showcasing his exceptional speed. I wonder if he's interested in learning to play shortstop?
The Red Sox managed to place 6 players into the All star game this year: David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Johnathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Hideki Okajima. I'm always glad to see Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz in the All Star game, but it pains me to think that they're really reaping the benefits of being big names in a big market club and covering their sub par numbers. Manny's numbers in the first half are well short of All Star worthy with his power numbers and batting average noticeably down from career averages. I was glad to see Red Sox Nation/Japan come together to get Hideki Okajima into the All Star game. His unprecedented and unexpected production for the Red Sox has been crucial to the Red Sox success and his numbers compare well to any reliever in the majors.