Mike Lowell contributed big with a three-run knock over the Green Monster in the third during Boston’s six run power inning, as the Red Sox went on to out-hit the Chicago White Sox 12-8 at Fenway Park last night. With the win the Sox expand their Wild Card lead on the Texas Rangers, but still trail the New York Yankees by seven games in the AL East standings.
Although pitcher Clay Buchholz gave up seven runs in just four innings on the mound, Boston was still able to deny Chicago of any lead change after taking it over in the 3rd. Over the past seven games the Red Sox have averaged more than 9 runs with four double digit performances. “I think everyone has kind of been waiting for this,” said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. “It’s not to say it’s going to happen every game, but it’s kind of like we’ve been searching for the offensive identity all year.”
The Red Sox are set to host Chicago for three more games before the Toronto Blue Jays make a weekend trip to Boston. The 10-7 John Lester will get the start tonight against Chicago’s Freddy Garcia.
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Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle got a World Series ring with his team in 2005, but he cemented his sole place in baseball history over the past week. Burhrle threw the 18th perfect game in MLB history. The left-hander completely silenced the Tampa Bay Rays, though he needed a hilight-reel catch from DeWayne Wise to clinch it. Burhrle continued his dominance in his next start. The first seventeen Minnesota Twins batters were retired, breaking a record set by the Giants’Jim Barr in 1972 and tied by teammate Bobby Jenks in 2007. “I’m not into the whole attention stuff,”Buehrle told the Chicago Sun Times’ Joe Crowley. Burhrle is humbled to be mentioned among some of the greatest names in baseball after making his bit of history. Though the White Sox would lose the second game, the team seems to have gotten a major morale boost from the lefty’s amazing feat.
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The 2008 MLB playoff picture is finally set as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Twins in playoff to determine the AL Central Division winner. The White Sox only need one run in a pitching dominated game last night. A home-run by Jim Thome in the 7th inning was all the offense required for Chicago as John Danks pitched eight strong innings, giving up only two hits.
Ken Griffey Jr. also made a huge play, throwing out Cuddyer at home plate to preserve the win. The tired White Sox will now head to Tampa to face the AL East Division winning Tampa Bay Rays. Game 1 of this series takes place on Thursday at 2:30pm in Tampa.
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With two outs and men on second and third, Dustin Pedroia had a chance to tie the game with just a base hit. He had been 4-for-4 with a walk in each of the the two previous games. In the series, he had 15 plate appearances: he was on base 12 times, and scored 5 runs. Unfortunately for the Sox, Bobby Jenks got the best of him.
You really can’t complain about a guy who almost had as many total bases in a series as the team he was playing against.
Tim Wakefield got stuck with another hard-luck loss, giving up only 3 runs in 6 innings on 6 hits and no walks, while striking out three. Wakefield fell to 8-9 on the year, with a 3.76 ERA. While Jacoby Ellsbury’s highlight reel play on a first-pitch fly seemed to start the game on a positive note, Jim Thome’s subsequent homer set the tone early.
Manny Delcarmen threw another encouraging two innings of relief, but Justin Masterson had a rough ninth inning, giving up a run on three hits.
Tampa Bay trounced the Orioles 10-4 on Sunday, so the Sox fell to 5.5 games back in the American League East.
On Saturday, Michael Bowden became the second Boston Red Sox pitcher to start his year at AA in Portland, and make his Major League debut for the Sox. First-batter jitters gave way to 5 solid innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and one walk (his first batter faced) while striking out three.
“It’s filling pretty big footsteps, coming behind guys like [Jon] Lester, [Clay] Buchholz,” said Bowden. “Those are all great guys and they’ve made their mark in the big leagues and it’s an honor just to follow them.”
With Kevin Youkilis sideluned with an illness, second baseman Dustin Pedroia filled the cleanup spot. For the second day in a row, Pedroia went 4-for-4, and was intentionally walked when he came up to bat in the 8th inning.
“I never thought I would walk a jockey,” said Guillen, joking about Pedroia’s stature. “I must be the worst manager ever in the history of baseball right now, walking a guy that just came from being on the top of Big Brown to beat the White Sox. Right now, he’s on a roll. This guy right now is on fire.”
The Sox benefitted from 3 RBI’s from new Red Sox Mark Kotsay, and 2 each from Jason Bay and Jed Lowrie (plus one from Jeff Bailey). All 8 of the Sox runs were driven in by people who weren’t on the team as of 32 days ago.
After Bowden left, the Sox got 4 clean innings from the bullpen. Lopez, Delcarmen, Masterson, and Okajima combined for 4.0 innings, 2 hits, and 2 strikeouts to help 21-year-old Bowden win his first major league game.
Tampa Bay came from behind to edge out the Orioles 10-9, so the Sox remain 4.5 back in the American League East.
Daisuke Matsuzaka has not had the smoothest second season in the MLB. He has struggled a times, and spent a chunk of the year on the diabled list. On Friday, however, Matsuzaka blanked the AL-Central leading Chicago White Sox for 8 innings. He struck out 7 and walked only two – and seemed much more in control of his pitches than previously this season. He improved to 16-2 on the year with a 2.82 ERA.
The Sox offense exploded for 15 hits, including a 4 for 4 performance from second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia made it on base all 5 times he went to the place, and scored 3 runs in the process. Combined with 3-RBI perfomances by Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis, the batters were firing on all cylinders.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he was more concerned with the 5-foot-9 2B than with anyone else on the team.
“I worry more about Pedroia than I worry about Big Papi” said Guillen. “Right now, I have to, because he’s swinging the bat good. … It’s amazing how this kid shows up to the ballpark every day and plays the way he plays. He brings a lot of energy to the field.”
The Sox also benefitted from a perfect ninth from Mike Timlin, who struck out Orlando Cabrera to start the inning. With Tampa Bay trouncing the Orioles 14-3, the Sox remain 4.5 games back in the American League East.
The AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox handed Jon Lester his first loss since May 25th, and kept Clay Buchholz winless since May 2nd over the weekend. The Sox managed to get a three run rally going the 8th inning of Friday night’s game, but it was not enough to erase the 7+ solid innings of work from Chicago starter Mark Buehrle.
“I was just trying to get on base to be honest with you, to get David [Ortiz] up with a chance to tie the game,” said Pedroia, whose 3-run homer put the Sox within 2. “I ended up getting a good pitch to hit and hit it. That was basically it.”
Carlos Quentin’s post-Sox-rally-homer and closer Bobby Jenks’ perfect ninth sent the Sox packing.
Tuesday, the only bright spot of Boston’s weekend, featured an 8-inning, one run gem by Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka benefitted from 4 double plays, and stuck out four batters. The Sox exploded against Chicago in the 6th inning, on Dustin Pedroia RBI single and a bases-clearing double by David Ortiz. Ortiz broke out of his recent slump on the road trip and was 3-5 with 3 RBI’s on the day.
“Papi knows when the ball is gone, but I guess Mother Nature doesn’t want me to hit it out tonight. The wind was blowing really hard tonight” said Ortiz, laughing about how he though his double had been a homer.
Sunday’s starter Clay Buchholz has struggled all season long. He hasn’t logged a win since May 2nd, and has a 2-8 record with a 6.32 ERA on the season. He seemed to be cruising along in the first inning, and the Jermaine Dye homer in the second did not seem so bad after Boston’s 3-run first innings. However, Buchholz imploded in the 3rd, giving up homers to Carlos Quentin and Jim Thome, and getting chased from the game after only 74 pitches. Boston’s offense picked it back up again in the 6th inning with Jason Bay hitting an RBI single and scoring on a wild pitch; but it was too little too late. Jenks pitched another perfect 9th to rack up his 24th save of the season.
After Sunday’s games, the Red Sox are 4.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the AL East, and lead the AL Wild Card by 1.5 games above the Minnesota Twins.
Tonight the Sox will try to split the series. Josh Beckett(10-8, 4.08 ERA) faces off against lefty John Danks (9-4, 3.21 ERA). First pitch is at 8:11pm at US Cellular Field.
In a deal that pretty much came out of nowhere, the Chicago White Sox acquired Ken Griffey Jr. In return, the Reds get Danny Richar, Nick Masset and possibly $1 Million in cash considerations. With Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin doing a solid job at the corner outfield spots, and the DH spot taken by Jim Thome, Griffey’s place in the lineup is not immediately clear. Keep your eyes peeled for the AL Central-leading Pale Hose to make another deal today.
Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye in the corners and Jim Thome at DH
A week ago the inaugural game for the 2008 season was played in Tokyo, Japan between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. While the two teams enjoyed the trip and media hype, the rest of Major League Baseball could only watch and wait for their first regular season games. Well after yesterday, the wait is over and baseball is back in season! Thirteen games graced ballparks across the country and fans returned from their winter hibernations, awaking to the sounds of sausage and beer vendors roaming the stands. For 26 teams yesterday was a new slate, a fresh start and chance to show everyone that this is their year.
It’s too early to make any predictions, but the only thing that really matters right now is that its baseball season and fans couldn’t be happier.
AL Round Up
The last opening day at Yankee Stadium will have to wait at least one more day due to rainstorms in the Bronx, NY that forced the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to postpone yesterday’s scheduled afternoon game. The Yankees have already announced that 2008 will be their final season in the 76 year old stadium, and at years end will be moving to a brand new park that has cost the team over 1 billion dollars to construct.
In Detroit, the Kansas City Royals spoiled the Tigers home opener with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings. Tony Pena Jr.’s tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the 11th would prove to be the game winning hit for the Royals. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and a stolen base in the win. Justin Verlander pitched the first six innings for the Tigers allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings. He stuck out 6 batters and walked one in the performance and came away with a no decision. Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez threw two hitless innings of relief and picked up the victory. Over the off-season the Tigers were one of the teams who hit the market hard for new players and currently have a pay-roll of $138 million dollars compared to the Royals $57 million.
C.C. Sabathia struggled in his opening day performance but the Cleveland Indians were still able to hold on for a 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Jacobs Field. Chicago 1B Jim Thome welcomed Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, back home with two monster home runs to center field in his first two plate appearances. Still, the Sox could not overcome a 7 run 2nd inning by the tribe that was led by a Franklin Gutierrez three-run homer and a solo shot by Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez went 3-3 on the day. The knock out punch for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning when Casey Blake hit a two-out double with the bases loaded to break a 7-7 tie. Octavio Dotel took the loss for the White Sox while Rafael Betancourt logged the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work.
With ace pitcher Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to James Shields to open the year and it turned out to be a great move. Shields pitched 7 strong innings and picked up the win in Tampa Bay’s 6-2 opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. After allowing two runs on a Kevin Millar 2 RBI double in the 1st inning, Shields settled down and did not allow another run in his outing. The Rays received three hits from C Dioner Navarro and a solo home run from OF Eric Hinske. Jeremy Guthrie suffered the loss for Baltimore, allowing all 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and 1 walk.
The Seattle Mariners have high hopes for the 2008 season, and a lot of that is based on the off-season acquisition of new ace pitched Erik Bedard. In his first outing with his new team, Bedard pitched 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits that helped lift the Mariners past the Texas Rangers 5-2 last night. Bedard struggled at times finding the plate and throwing strikes, and in return walked 4 batters. 2B Jose Lopez went 2-4 and had 2 RBI’s in the win for Seattle. In the losing effort, SS Michael Young went yard in the 1st inning off Bedard and losing pitcher Kevin Millwood pitched well allowing only 2 unearned runs on 4 hits through 6 innings.
Torri Hunter returned to Minnesota for his debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only to be welcomed with an 0-4 performance at the plate and a 3-2 loss from his former Minnesota Twins. Livan Hernandez hurled 7 innings for to earn the win allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. Hunter’s replacement in CF for the Twins, Carlos Gomez, scored two runs in the game, including the eventual game winner in the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. Joe Nathan pitched the 9th inning and earned the save, striking out Hunter during his effort.
While everyone’s eyes, ears, and …. imaginations have been focused on where Johan Santana would end up, the American League hot stove has been quietly churning. Here is a quick recap of some moves to date. (more)