Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The Red Sox thrashed the Twins this afternoon to complete a 3 game sweep. Minnesota came to Boston riding a 5 game winning streak, but Friendly Fenway is only friendly to one team this year.
Ten Sox batters got a hit, 9 players knocked a run in, 10 scored runs. The Sox had 7 doubles, a triple, 2 homeruns, and 23 hits total.
This series may be what Manny Ramirez needed to get going again. He went 6 for 13 with 2 doubles, a homer, and 6 RBI.
But this wasn't a flawless victory for the Sox. Beckett gave up 3 runs in the 1st and threw far too many pitches early on. He left after 5 innings. This spelled trouble with a capital B (for bullpen).
Javier Lopez faced 8 batters and let 5 of them reach. Craig Hansen only threw 9 strikes in 19 pitches and was unable to eat the garbage innings at the end of the game.
I know I'm being far too negative after an 18-5 victory, but the Sox didn't dominate the entirety of the game as the score suggests. 18 runs is an aberration, a rarity we probably won't see duplicated this season. But bullpen problems have been a bad habit of this team.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Before the 8th inning last night, Manny Ramirez had only hit 1 homerun in his last 77 at-bats. The 2 run Monster shot was part of a 4 run inning for the Sox, and tied the game at 5-5. Later, with 2 outs, Brandy Moss knocked in Youkilis to make it a 6-5 game.
Lester pitched decently. He allowed 5 runs in 7.1 innings. He threw 117 pitches, the 2nd most of the season (his most was 130 in the no-hitter). He had reached 100 pitches after 7 innings, but Francona had him start the 8th. That's an unusual move for Francona, who doesn't like to pull pitchers in the middle of an inning. But with the bullpen in the state that it is, you can't blame Tito for trying to stretch his starters.
Another interesting managerial decision was starting Kevin Cash. Francona hasn't benched Varitek, he simply gave him a day off. And maybe that's what Tek needs right now. Hopefully he used the off-day wisely. Cash went 0 for 2. But if Varitek continues to struggle, I'd like to see Cash given more at-bats, particularly against lefthanded pitchers. He's 6 for 17 against lefties this season.
Tampa Bay lost to the Yankees last night, cutting their divisional lead to 3 games.
The Sox go for the sweep this afternoon as Beckett faces Livan Hernandez.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson