Friday, April 04, 2008


What started off as a pitching duel for 5 innings turned into a complete mess as the Sox allowed 6 runs in 3 innings to lose by a score of 6-3.

Wakefield looked brilliant to start the game. The first two times through the lineup, the Jays managed to get a mere 4 baserunners of the knuckleballer. But as was the case last year, the third time through the lineup was Wakefield's undoing.

Matt Stairs led off the 6th inning with a homerun. Alex Rios and Frank Thomas walked. Then Lyle Overbay hit a blooper into no-man's land in left-center to knock in Rios. Aaron Hill blasted one to deep center. Ellsbury had it in his glove, but ran into the scoreboard, jarring the ball loose, giving Hill a 390 foot single and the Blue Jays another run. Marco Scutaro singled to load the bases, but a double play ended the inning and prevented any further damage. But Wakefield's night was over, and it was time for the mediocre Red Sox middle-relief to come in.

JD Drew tied the game up with a two out, three run blast in the top of the 7th. But any momentum the Sox had was given back to Toronto when David Aarsdma entered the game and walked David Eckstein. Then Javier Lopez came in and allowed Shannon Stewart to hit a single. Delcarmen came in, got two foul outs, but left a juicy pitch over the plate, which Frank Thomas drilled for a 2 run double.

The Toronto bullpen shut down the Sox, allowing only a soft bouncing basehit up the middle by Manny in the 9th. And that was it.

The game may have been lost when Thomas hit that two run double, but what set that inning into motion was Wakefield's inability to go through a lineup more than twice. He only threw 88 pitches, but had to be pulled after 6 innings. So instead of a nice, 7 inning start, giving the ball to Okajima and Papelbon; the Sox were forced to go to their soft middle-relief, and it failed miserably.

Do you feel comfortable with David Aardsma or Javier Lopez on the mound in a tied game? Because I don't. But Wakefield left Francona with little choice.

I didn't agree with the pinch-hitting decisions in the top of the 8th. Crisp pinch-hit for Ellsbury because the Toronto pitcher was a lefty. Then Varitek pinch-hit for cash for the same reason. Frankly, Varitek's lack of success at the plate, and the fact that almost everybody is a worse hitter when they're pinch-hitting, made me cringe when Tek's name was announced. I think keeping Ellsbury in, then pinch-hitting Crisp for Cash and replacing him with Varitek in the field would have been the better option. Even though Ellsbury is a lefty, his speed allows him to make weak contact and still get infield singles. I'd take the combination of Ellsbury and Crisp over the combination of Crisp and Varitek any day, against ANY reliever, no matter which arm they throw with.

The Man of the Game is Shaun Marcum, who gave his team 7 good innings (really 6.2 good innings, then a homerun to Drew, then another 0.1 inning). He only allowed 3 hits and a walk, and he struck out 8.

Clay Buchholz makes his first start of the year tomorrow afternoon, facing Jesse Litsch.

I wish the Red Sox had light blue throwback uniforms.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld
Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images

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