Last night's Red Sox return to Fenway also saw the return of two missing stars to their lineup: Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis. Manny was back in the starting lineup, but batted in an unusual position: second. Terry Francona wanted to give him as many at-bats as quickly as possible.
The fans were certainly glad to see him back, as he got a nice ovation in the first inning, and he promptly singled to right. Manny batted three times in five innings, popping up and also walking before leaving for a pinch-runner. Kevin Youkilis also appeared last night, as a pinch-hitter for Eric Hinske. He figures to be in the starting lineup in today's game.
Curt Schilling was in fine form last night, allowing just one earned run to the Oakland A's, a home run to Daric Barton in the first inning, while striking out six in six innings, and walking none. He left with a 3-1 lead, and the Red Sox added three in the eighth to ice the game and a 7-3 win. It was Schilling's ninth win of the season.
It was interesting in the eighth, as Eric Gagne was on the mound, the crowd at Fenway erupted when the "1" on the scoreboard next to TB turned into "6" in their game against the Yankees. The crowd stood and wildly applauded as a confused Gagne looked on. Dioner Navarro would hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the tenth to give the Rays a huge, come-from-behind win against New York, 7-6. (And you can guess the folks at Professor Thom's enjoyed the comeback as well.)
Today the Red Sox take on Oakland again, this time with Jon Lester on the hill. An unusual start time, 5 PM at Fenway Park.
The Magic Number dropped to the number of the man pictured here. He was a great glove, light hitting infielder who was originally acquired by the Red Sox in December 2001 from Colorado for Scott Hatteberg, but was non-tendered two days later and signed by the Pirates. But two years later, he signed with the Red Sox as a free agent. He batted just .221 in his one year with the Sox, but that year was 2004. He showed off his dazzling glove, playing shortstop and second, and made a memorable, fantastic grab off the bat of Dave Roberts in a Sunday night game in June. He'll always be remembered for throwing out Ruben Sierra to complete the greatest postseason comeback in the history of Major League Baseball. He also suffered through some terrible tragedies in his personal life, but always had an infectious smile on his face. His real first name was Calvin, but the world will always know him as Pokey Reese.