Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sox walk off in ninth to drop the Rays 2-1

The sox really needed a nice easy series against the Rays to bounce back from the terrible showing against the Orioles over the weekend. Tonight Red Sox nation is resting just a little easier. Jon Lester had an extremely strong outing, which he desperately needed given the three shaky starts he posted prior to this game. Eric Gagne is still without a clean inning, but managed to hold onto a one run lead and hopefully built up some self confidence and gained some goodwill with the hometown faithful after a the weekend from hell in Baltimore. He even picked up the win for his inning of work. The Red Sox again showed that when absolutely necessary they do have what it takes to come back and win. A solo homerun from Mike Lowell, a double that almost left the park from Jason Varitek and a single from the ill Coco Crisp was enough to win the series against the Rays. While this was going on the Yankees fell very flat against the O's in a 12-0 rout bouncing the Red Sox lead in the AL East back up to 5 games.

Sox Pitching: B+
Lester: A-
Manny Delcarmen: C-
Mike Timlin: Incomplete
Eric Gagne: B+

Lester's only blemish on the day came in the form of a Carl Crawford leadoff double in the 4th followed by a single and a sacrifice fly. 5 of his 7 Innings were clean and minus an inconsequential leadoff walk in the first he retired the next 3 batters easily. He really made the Tampa Bay Devil Rays look like.......the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Manny Delcarmen looked shaky allowing a leadoff single and a walk to put himself in a 2 on and no out situatuion in the 7th. Luckily MDC pitched his way to two outs, intentionally walked Carl Crawford before handing off to Mike Timlin who finished off the inning. Gagne would come in for the ninth and looked sharp striking out 3 of the 4 batters he faced. The two out double by Harris keeps Gagne from recording his first clean appearance by the sox, but he still managed to get the job done.

Sox Hitting: C-
Heroes: Mike Lowell (1 for 4, HR), Jason Varitek (1 for 2, 2 BB, R), Coco Crisp (1 for 4, RBI)
Goats: Julio Lugo (0 for 4), David Ortiz (0 for 3, BB)

I have alot of respect for the pitching abilities of Scott Kazmir, ever since his rookie season I've noticed him as one of the bright spots on a team without many bright spots. I often wonder if he would be a household name if he were on a team that could put up some runs for him. That said, the Red Sox still looked incredibly lame against Rays pitching for eight innings. One of the benefits of playing the Rays at this point in the season was manifest as they pulled Kazmir after 6 innings despite only giving up 4 hits and working on a shutout. With the Rays unable to make the post season this move makes perfect sense and again the sox reaped the benefits by scoring their runs off the Tampa Bay bullpen. It looked as though the sox would start turning the tide immediately in the 7th with a leadoff walk to start the inning, but a botched bunt attempt by coco crisp and double play ball by JD Drew would end the inning. The eighth was an uneventful 1-2-3. A borderline strike 3 call on Manny Ramirez for the first out of the ninth had me sweating bullets, but fortunately Mike Lowell delivered with a home run over the monster. Youk would strike out on another questionable strike 3 call before the magic began. With two outs Jason Varitek hit a shot deep to right, just a few feet shy of a home run. Coco followed up with a hit, the throw was off and Varitek was able to score from second without a play at the plate.

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