Red Sox Opener in Seattle

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sox Overcome Bullpen Arson Squad

This one had my head spinning.

The Red Sox jumped out to a fast 9-0 lead after four innings, blasting KC starter Gil Meche from the game. (He actually departed with back spasms, but I'm sure he was glad to get out of Dodge.) Dennis Eckersley on NESN then said about John Smoltz getting such a huge lead again, "He'll be alright, as long as it doesn't rain." That was in reference to the Baltimore disaster of a week and a half ago, the game he started and got the big lead and the rain showed up, and well, you know the rest.

And then, I started having flashbacks. Once again, Justin Masterson deals with having a big lead by immediately giving up three runs. Manny Delcarmen came in and poured more gasoline on the raging inferno, and it was all of a sudden 9-6. Hideki Okajima finally ended the eternal sixth inning, but then went back to work in the seventh determined to let Kansas City get closer.

It was 9-7 and finally someone who knew how to get batters out came in: Daniel Bard. He's been spectacular, and shut the Royals down in the seventh, retiring three straight hitters.

There was of course, lots to like about Saturday night. The offense finally exploded after some dubious efforts this week. David Ortiz continued his resurgence, hitting his 12th home run, a bomb into the right field bleachers (which was also his 1,000th hit of his Red Sox career), and Kevin Youkilis added two, including one in the seventh. Jason Varitek hit his 13th homer of the year, a shot hit right down the right field line. John Smoltz was terrific, allowing just one run in five innings. His pitch count was growing by the end of the fifth, so Terry Francona pulled him. And J.D. Drew made one of the best defensive plays of the year in the sixth, taking a ball hit to right on one hop with the bases full and gunning a strike to the plate and nailing the slow-footed Miguel Olivo a step before he could score.

And congratulations to Aaron Bates, who got his first MLB hit and RBI in the eighth, after making an error in the top of the inning that led to the final two Kansas City runs.

It was 15-9 in the ninth, and of course, the topper of the night was the sky opened up and it poured down rain with an out to go. (That's all we would need, a rain delay!) But the Red Sox got the final out without further ado.

It was a hard-fought win for the Sox, and they are now 5-4 on this homestand. New York blew another one to the Angels in Anaheim, so the Sox are now two up in the East, and will be in first place through the All-Star Break.

But the bullpen continues to be a concern, as they allowed six earned runs last night. Hopefully, the All-Star Break will do many of them some good. Josh Beckett will conclude the first half today against Bruce Chen. And Dom DiMaggio will be honored at Fenway Park before today's game.

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