With over half their offense coming off Houston starter Philip Humber in the first inning Clay Buchholz had more than enough run support to be the first big league pitcher to reach five wins as Sox win, 7-2. (more)
When the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez in 2000 they gave him the highest paying contract in sports. When he resigned with the Yankees before the 2008 season he inked the highest paying contract in Major League Baseball for $275 million over 10 years. (more)
The third inning of yesterday’s Cubs-Astros game had more offense than most entire games do. Houston fired first, with a Lance Berman RBI double and a Carlos Lee 3-run homer. The Cubs answered with a monster offensive surge. Mark DeRosa hit a monster grand slam, Cubs hurler Jason Marquis helped his own cause with an RBI double, and Alfonso Soriano capped the frame with a 3-run homer.
Marquis ended a 4-game losing streak, tossing 6 1/3 innings before being lifted for Sean Marshall in the 7th. Marshall struck out one and only allowed one hit in an inning and a third. Jeff Samardija pitched a perfect ninth, striking out one and looking like a possibilty as the Cubs closer of the future.
Offense was the story in Tuesday night’s game as well. The teams scored a combined 18 runs on 26 hits. Cubs closer Kerry Wood returned from the DL and only gave up 1 hit pitching in the 8th inning.
This weekend was a tough one for the Red Sox, losing consecutive one-run games to the Houston Astros. On Saturday night the teams had a combined 27 hits for 21 runs, including a wild third inning with 9 two-out runs. Despite the messy start, Sox starter Jon Lester was lined up for the win after a 5-run Sox rally in the 6th.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Ty Wiggington ended Manny Delcarmen’s scoreless innings streak in the Eighth inning. Wiggington’s game-tying solo shot was the first run Delcarmen had surrendered since May 27th; a span of 13 2/3 innings over 12 appearances. Lance Berkman continued the Astros’ two-out success and nailed a go-ahead double to left field to put Houston ahead for good.
Mike Lowell hit a clutch solo homer in the 9th to bring the Sox within a run, but Houston closer Jose Valverde cooled down and managed to get Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek to strike out to end the game.
The red-hot Sox offense kept it going in this game, with four-hit performances by Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia, and a combined 8 RBI from 4-6 in the order. Sox pitching gave up double-digit runs for only the 4th time this season. Lester’s 6 earned were the most he’s given up this year. David Aardsma’s 2 runs (1 earned) were the first he’d surrendered since June 6th.
The pitching staff fared far better on Sunday. Starter Josh Beckett scattered 8 hits and 2 walks across 7 innings, but left after the 7th with 111 pitches.
“Too many pitches,” Beckett said. “I have to cut down on some of the three-ball counts and go deeper in the game and give myself a better chance to win. ”
David Aardsma came on in relief, and gave up a one-out single to Miguel Tejada. Sox manager Terry Francona went back to the pen and brought in Hideki Okajima. Okajima has struggled with inherited runners this season, and has not been brought in with runners on since May 14th. Okajima would toss a wild pitch to move Tejada to second, and give up a go-ahead single to Mark Loretta. For the second time in two days, Loretta was the difference maker against his old team.
“His pitch is the [split] changeup, so I was completely sitting on the changeup there, you have to,” Loretta said. “I was out in front just a hair, but I was able to stay back just enough to get it up the middle.”
Okajima has allowed 12 of his 15 inherited runners to score this year. The split-changeup that got him through his first MLB season seems to have lost much of its fire. Okajima again refused to speak to the media after the game.
With the loss to Houston, the Sox lost the top spot in the American League East, which they have held since June 3rd. The Tampa Bay Rays mounted an 8th inning rally against the Pirates to move into first place. The Sox start a three game set against the Rays on Monday night in Tampa (where they were swept in April). After that series, the Sox head to New York to play the Yankees, and then return home to face the Twins.
After making it through the top of the 3rd inning, the rains came and washed out the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals in their season opener. The defending NL Champions were trailing 5-1 at the time the game was called but it will all be erased and replayed at a later date.
The Arizona Diamondbacks still have a bitter taste in their mouth after being swept last October in the NLCS by the Colorado Rockies. Taking the field for the first time since that playoff series, the defending NL West Champions looked very solid in a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Brandon Webb picked up right where the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner left off pitching 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in route to his first victory of the year. The offensive attack was led by three solo bombs hit by Chris Young and Eric Byrnes in the 3rd inning and the other hit by Jeff Salazar in a PH at bat in the 7th that gave the D-Backs some breathing room with a 2 run cushion. Brandon Lyon recorded the save pitching a perfect 9th inning.
It was a pitchers duel for 8 innings in Chicago at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers before both teams came to life for 3 run 9th inning performances, but it was the Brewers who would prevail with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. Corey Hart lifted the Brewers with a 2 RBI double in the ninth that put them ahead 3-0. Closer Eric Gagne came in and suffered his first blown save of the season (surprise, surprise) by allowing a three-run home run to Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome, the first of his major league career, which knotted the game at 3-3. In the 10th inning, Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a sac-fly that plated Craig Counsell for the game winning run for the Brewers. David Riske pitched a perfect 10th frame and recorded the save.
With 5 runs on 5 hits in the top of the 9th inning, the Washington Nationals turned a close game into a statement win in their 11-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday at Citizens Bank Park. Nick Johnson’s RBI double opened the flood gates for National bats, and the hits just kept on coming as the team chased out Phillies closer Tom Gordon after allowing 5 earned runs on 4 hits and only recording 1 out. Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge each produced 2 hits and 2 RBI’s for the Nationals in the win. The Phillies were led by SS Jimmy Rollins who went 2-4 on the game with a pair of RBI’s and a HR.
Behind the arm of Johan Santana, the New York Mets captured their first victory of the 2008 season over the Florida Marlins with a 7-2 win. Santana struck out 8 and allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings. The one mistake he made came in the 4th inning when he allowed a two-run homer to Josh Willingham. After the HR, Santana would only allow two runners to reach base. The Mets scored 6 of their 7 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, led by a bases clearing double by 3B David Wright. Wright went 2-4 with 3 RBI’s for the game. New York’s bullpen worked a scoreless 8th and 9th to preserve the win for Santana, Mark Hendrickson suffered the loss for Florida.
Brad Penny pitched 6 and 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers back it up with some early runs that would be hold up for a 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Barry Zito struggled for the Giants allowing 3 runs in the 1st inning and another in the 2nd. He last only 5 innings and was pulled after 87 pitches and allowing 8 hits. The Dodgers runs in the 1st came on a Matt Kemp RBI single, followed by a Jeff Kent two-run blast to deep left-center field. SS Rafael Furcal also added three hits in the winning effort.
The Atlanta Braves came up just short, twice, in a thrilling 12-11 twelve innings game that ended with the Pittsburgh Pirates on top. The Braves mustered up a 5 run 9th inning to tie the game at 9-9 and left the winning run on base. After a few scoreless innings, the Pirates were able to score three runs in the 12th on Xavier Nady three-run homer to dead center field. The Braves made things interesting scoring 2 in the bottom of the 12th on a Jeff Francoeur solo shot and an RBI single by Matt Diaz but stranded the tying run on base to suffer their second loss of the season. Tom Glavine pitched well for the Braves but took a no decision with 5 innings pitched, 7 hits and 1 earned run allowed. Pirates relief pitcher, Franquelis Osoria, pitched from the 10th inning on, and finished the game for the win.
Jake Peavy helped his own cause by going 1-1 at the plate with 2 RBI’s and then made those runs stand up by pitching 7 scoreless innings in San Diego’s 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros. 2B Tadahito Iguchi paced a balanced offensive attack for the Padres with 3 hits on the night. The Astros looked rusty at the plate only collecting 4 hits in the contest, 2 of them coming from newly acquired SS Miguel Tejada. Row Oswalt took the loss for Houston, scattering 11 hits and 3 strike outs over 5 and 1/3 innings worked.
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)
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