The Mets had their ace going against the Red Sox on Friday night, and sure enough, Johan Santana, one of the best pitchers in baseball, emerged victorious as the Mets won, 5-3 at Fenway.
The Red Sox first loss to New York this year, and it wasn't to the Yankees.
It was also the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Red Sox rotation, and for the first three innings, he was pretty solid, allowing just a home run to Gary Sheffield in the second. He retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. But the Mets got to him in the fourth, as they scored one run to make it 2-1.
But a grounder to Dustin Pedroia by Jeremy Reed looked like it might end the inning. But Julio Lugo remained flat-footed to the second base bag, and didn't get off a strong throw. Reed beat it, and the Mets capitalized, adding two more runs on base hits to make it 4-1.
I won't say that if Lugo had moved his feet he would definitely have gotten Reed, who does have pretty good speed. But just add another notch to Julio Lugo's resume in Boston. I was at Professor Thom's, and to say the least, the bar wasn't happy with what they thought was another Lugo goofup.
Whether it was his fault or not, Lugo continues to be the player Sox fans detest, and if they could go back in time, they wish Theo Epstein would have not given him a $36 million deal for 4 years in 2007. It may just be time to cut their losses with this guy and send him walking after this season and get someone who can actually play the position. (I don't know if they envision Jed Lowrie as a fulltime shortstop.)
It was good to have Dice-K back, and he went five innings throwing 80 pitches, as Terry Francona was wise not to stretch him out his first start back. Jason Varitek went deep yet again, his eighth dinger of the year, and drove the other two runs on Ramon Martinez' error in the fourth. David Ortiz had a simply miserable night, striking out three times and hitting into a DP. The good feeling of Wednesday's blast now seems ages ago.
It got interesting later in the game, when Kevin Youkilis got plunked in the back of the arm by a Santana pitch. Santana took exception to Youk's pain, and they jawed a little bit, but nothing became of it.
On second thought, something actually did become of it, but I didn't hear it at the time. We had the SNY feed of the game, as NESN was blacked out here in NYC. On NESN, Dennis Eckersley used what my dad refers to as "piggy language" in reviewing the Youk plunking. Here it is from the Central Maine Sports Blog, via The Joy of Sox. (And he also used a word you also don't hear in a baseball broadcast a short while later, also included in the above link. Enjoy.)
Ah, the Eck. Never a dull a moment with him.
The Red Sox remained a half-game back of the Jays, who lost in Atlanta, and one ahead of the Yankees, who were whacked at home by the Phillies, ending the current run of glory at 9 games.