Brad Penny, throwing up in between innings because of a sinus problem, gutted it out for 5 1/3 innings yesterday in the Metrodome as the Red Sox took the opening game of a four-game set with the Twins, 6-5.
The Red Sox got the bats out early, scoring three runs after falling behind in the second. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay each drove in two runs, Jeff Bailey hit one out and Mike Lowell had four hits to pace the attack. Penny is now 5-1. His ERA is still just a notch below 6.00, but he has done an admirable job out of the fifth spot in the rotation. (Clay Buchholz pitched eight perfect innings against Louisville yesterday before losing it in the ninth on a single, so the competition for that spot is getting more intense.)
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and did the "heart attack" routine, giving up a hit to the first batter. But two outs later, in stepped Joe Mauer, the hottest hitter currently on Planet Earth. With a three run lead, Pap challenged him as he should have, and Mauer took him deep over that baggie thing to make it 6-5. It got the next hitter to fly out to end it. It was the second straight game he had allowed a two-run homer.
Loved some of those signs in the Metrodome yesterday, as this is the final year that the Twins will be there. They will be moving to the new Target Stadium in 2010. They put up things like the countdown to "grass stains" and "fresh air." I love it because it will be one less stadium without artificial turf (leaving just Toronto and Tampa Bay with the fuzzy cement).
Mike Lowell was the DH yesterday, as Terry Francona wants to limit his time on turf this week because of his hip (Toronto is the Sox' next stop). David Ortiz had another day off, and he will be back tonight, and speculation is rampant that Papi will move down in the order (I would bet Jason Bay takes over the 3 spot).
By 8 PM, will see just how far down he will be.