The Red Sox opened their homestand against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park tonight, and throughout it I felt like I was strapped to a dentist chair.
It was another night of leaving men everywhere, wasting opportunities and hitting into double plays. Fortunately, Julio Lugo did not extend his 0-for-31 slump, as he and his lousy attitude were gratefully left on the bench. (Alex Cora didn't look much better at the plate, but I'll take him for now.) The Red Sox left a total of 12 men on the bases. They left the bases loaded once and two in the eighth, when the game could have been salted away. They actually got the deciding run on a ball hit off the pitcher, and the third baseman tagged David Ortiz for the third out, but Kevin Youkilis hustled home before the tag to get the run. It was that kind of evening.
But the pitching bailed them out. Tim Wakefield was solid, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run, as the knucklers were dancing tonight. Manny Delcarmen came in and promptly walked the first hitter to load the bases and was on the verge of walking Sammy Sosa and tying the game, but came back from 3-1 to strike him out. Hideki Okajima was superb, and Jonathan Papelbon got the first two hitters before Kenny Lofton hit an infield single (replays were rather inconclusive), Jerry Hairston was hit by a pitch, and then he caught Michael Young looking to end it.
It was the kind of night where there would be no easy end, but the Red Sox got the seven-game homestand off to a good start.
The Yankees won tonight, so they stay 11 back, and the Blue Jays are playing out in Seattle tonight. Now if they could only get the bats going in the clutch situations, everything would be hunky-dory. Josh Beckett goes for a MLB-leading 12th win tomorrow against Texas.