Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Place: So Close, But Yet So Far

The "new guy" came up big last night. Jason Bay pulled the Red Sox out of a 3-2 hole against Tampa Bay with a two-run shot off Dan Wheeler in the eighth to put the Red Sox just three outs away from regaining first place in the AL East. (I had to stop Trivia Night briefly as Professor Thom's went wild.)

That's as close as the Red Sox got.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and immediately gave up a long home run to right to pinch-hitter Dan Johnson to tie the game at 4. He then proceeded to give up doubles to give Tampa Bay the lead, 5-4. A Red Sox comeback in the ninth came up short as Coco Crisp popped up to second with Jacoby Ellsbury on third to end it. The Sox are once again 1 1/2 games behind the Rays.

It was Pap's fifth blown save of the season. Hey, the guy's human and things like this will happen. And Tampa Bay's a good team. But he's now pitched in three straight games, so he might not be available tonight.

Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled through 5+ innings, allowing three runs. He clearly had trouble locating his fastball, and the walks kicked in (and he allowed a run on a bases-loaded hit batsman). Dice-K not being able to get the Red Sox deep into the game put the pressure on the bullpen, who did a good job until Papelbon in the ninth.

The series concludes tonight with Josh Beckett taking the mound against Andy Sonnanstine. The Twins were victorious last night, so the Wild Card lead is now at 6. Toronto won a doubleheader in Chicago, and they have now won 10 straight games and are 7 back.

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