Right-handed hitters are only batting .170 against Sox pitcher Justin Masterson. Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, Craig Hansen, and Manny Delcarmen are struggling in the pen. The Sox have 6 healthy starting pitchers.
At this point, moving Justin Masterson to the pen is the next natural step. Four games behind the Rays, the Sox can’t afford to lose games blown in late innings. The Sox hope that with Masterson’s solid presence in either the 7th or 8th innings, there will be less pressure on the rest of the bullpent.
Masterson will do a short stint in AAA to adjust to pitching in relief. Clay Buchholz will eventually replace him in the rotation, but first baseman Jeff Bailey was recalled in the meantime to take his roster spot.
Having already lost one series to the Seattle Mariners this season, the Boston Red Sox made sure to even the score with yesterdays 2-1 win at Fenway Park. The victory also helped the Sox win the three game set 2 games to 1, avenging their 2 games to 1 series defeat in Seattle in late May. The Sox have won 8 of their last 10 games and currently sit atop the AL East ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by 1 1/2 games.
Justin Masterson pitched another gem for Boston tossing 6 strong innings allowing only 1 run on 3 hits. The victory improves his record to 3-0 on the season with an ERA of only 2.59. These numbers are certainly good enough for the Sox to consider keeping him on their active roster even after Clay Buchholtz and Dice-K Matsuzaka return from the DL.
“Anytime you get called up, you want to do your best,” Masterson said. “I am just trying to give us a chance to win.”
So far, mission accomplished for the rookie right hander.
“Every time he takes the ball, the organization’s got their chest out a little, as they should,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “This isn’t a fluke. He’s been prepared very well how to pitch, how to act and how to compete. It’s exciting.”
J.D. Drew blasted the go-ahead home run in the 6th inning, giving the Sox the 2-1 lead for good. The homer was Drew’s 8th of the year. Since DH David Ortiz was placed on the DL, Drew has continued to produce day in and out since being moved into the 3rd spot in the line up. Over the past 8 games, Drew is hitting .519 (14-27) and has hit safely in all 8 of the games.
Once Masterson exited the game, Boston’s bullpen continued its recent dominance. Craig Hansen issued a walk to the first battered he face but then retired the next three batters recording 2 strike outs. Hideki Okajima worked a perfect 8th and Jonathan Papelbon came in to pitch a perfect 9th recording his 18th save of the season.
Some good news was announced to Red Sox nation before the game when Francona publicized in a press conference that Jacoby Ellsbury would return to the lineup on Tuesday evening. Ellsbury suffered a wrist sprain against Tampa Bay making a diving catch in center-field and had not played since but will be available for the Baltimore series.
Tuesday’s starting pitching match up features Josh Beckett going against the O’s Daniel Cabrera. Beckett is coming off a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay while Cabrera suffered a 7-5 loss to Minnesota in his previous outing. The two met in Boston’s 5-2 win a week ago that went 13 innings. Both pitched well but neither factored into the decision.
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Justin Masterson pitched six solid innings and picked up his 2nd victory on the season as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 in a match up featuring the top two teams in the American League. The win was Boston’s 11th consecutive victory at Fenway Park, an impressive streak that started on May 2nd. During the run fans have witnessed seven different pitchers earn victories, 15 home town homers, 82 runs scored compared to only 42 allowed and of course a no hitter by Jon Lester on May 19th.
The win did not come easy for the Sox but an all around team effort proved to be enough to surge ahead of the Rays who came into the game atop the AL East. Coco Crisp knocked in the go-ahead run on an RBI double in a 4 run 6th inning and the Sox never looked back. With the double, Crisp snapped a 1-25 skid at the plate in a game where he was originally not even scheduled to start.
“Crisp is the guy that’s been struggling, but he looked good tonight,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s a good homecourt advantage and then you combine that with the quality of hitters, you’ve got to pitch well and we didn’t.”
In picking up the win, Masterson allowed 4 runs on 6 hits while striking out 5 Rays along the way. After allowing a leadoff homerun to Akinori Iwamura, he settled down retiring 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. Manny Delcarmen entered the game in relief and pitched a scoreless 7th. Craig Hanson hurled a scoreless 8th and Jonathan Papelbon came on to record his 17th save of the season, pitching a perfect 9th recording 2 strike outs in the outing.
The team effort was very promising after the club placed DH David Ortiz on the 15-day DL with a partial tear in his sheath around the tendon in his left wrist.
“Even in the very beginning parts of the season, it wasn’t just Manny (Ramirez) and David,” said Papelbon. “Now that David’s out, it’s even more noticeable that we do have a team where everybody contributes.”
Every member of the Sox lineup reached base in the win. Hitters 3 through 7 in the batting order produced 7 hits, 6 RBI’s and all 7 runs on the night.
“They’ve definitely got a great lineup,” said Rays starter Matt Garza (4-2). “They’ve got a lot of pop in there and some guys that can sneak stuff through. That middle of the lineup still has a lot of pop even without Ortiz.”
Carlos Pena, a former member of the Red Sox organization and Northeastern University baseball team, played well for the Rays in his return to Boston. Pena went 2-3 on the night belting his 11th homerun of the season while knocking in 2 RBI’s.
The Sox will send Josh Beckett to the hill tonight attempting to win their 12th consecutive win at home. If successful that would be the longest home winning streak of the season in all of MLB. Their 11-game win streak is currently tied with Tampa Bay who won 11 straight at Tropicana Field during the month of May.
Beckett is currently 5-4 on the season with a 4.30 ERA. After finishing 2nd in the 2007 Cy-Young balloting, he’s been very inconsistent to start the 2008 campaign. After missing his first few starts with lower back issues, he has yet to regain his dominant stuff from last season. In his most recent outing, he pitched well allowing only 2 runs over 6 innings in Baltimore for his first no-decision on the year.
The Rays will send Edwin Jackson to the hill to face the Sox for the third time this season. Jackson had ace like stuff in his first performance against Boston back on April 26th when he went 7 innings and allowed only 1 earned run on 5 hits. His very next start out on May 2nd, the Sox saw a completely different pitcher when Jackson allowed 6 earned runs on 9 hits over 4 innings of work.
If the Sox can capture tonight’s match up they will regain the lead in the AL East by ½ a game for the first time since May 25th. Tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 EST.
It’s never easy to follow up a no-hit performance but rookie pitcher Justin Masterson did just about all he could do in last nights 2-1 Boston win over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Masterson was masterful throwing 6 1/3 innings of 3 hit ball, allowing only 1 run while striking out 5 hitters in his 2nd major league start.
Masterson was called up to start the game because fellow rookie Clay Buchholtz was placed on the 15-day DL with an injury to a fingernail on his pitching hand. He arrived to Boston just in time to catch the last few innings of Jon Lester’s no-hitter on Monday night.
“I was excited. Of course, then the (television) announcer said, ‘have fun following this one, Justin,’ Masterson said with a big smile. “Rolling through my mind was I wanted to throw a perfect game or maybe back-to-back no-hitters, but that was taken away in the first inning.”
He allowed a double to David DeJesus with two outs in the 1st but settled into a nice groove only allowing one other running to get into scoring position while in the game.
Sox manager Terry Francona has now seen two youngsters throw back-to-back gems and knows that the future is very bright for his already talented club, but understands that it may be a little while before the Fenway Faithful see Masterson on the hill again.
“You can make some mistakes by rushing guys to the majors,” Francona said. “He needs to go pitch and enjoy his development and enjoy getting better because he’s going to help us.”
The Sox bats were held at bay most of the night by Royals starter Gil Meche who was the tough luck loser and now boasts a record of 3-6 on the year. Meche allowed 2 runs on only 5 hits over 7 innings. The runs both came in the 2nd inning, after which he retired 10 batters in a row and 16 of the final 18 he faced. David Ortiz was the only Red Sox batter to record more then one hit on the night going 2-4 at the plate with 2 singles.
The Royals were threatening in the 8th inning and with the score at 2-1 Boston they had worked the bases loaded with two outs before Jonathan Papelbon was called upon for a four-out save. He was able to come in and strike out Billy Butler to get out of the jam and went on to work a perfect 9th inning, recording two more strike outs along the way for his 13th save on the year.
“We ended up with the bases loaded and they bring in the big boy,” Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said. “Billy was right on the fastballs, but he threw a nasty slider. That’s tough duty.”
Tonight the Sox will switch gears and send a veteran pitcher to the hill in Bartolo Colon. The former Cy Young winner has been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make a spot start so that the rotation stays on their regular rest due to this past weekend’s double header. Colon is in his 12th major league season and hopes to make an impression on Francona for a possible mid-season call up if anything were to happen to another starter in the rotation. Although with Masterson’s performance last night, he may have to get in line.
In Triple-A, Colon has had moments of brilliance, looking like the pitcher who only three years ago captured the Cy Young award for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In three minor league starts he is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA. Some fellow veteran teammates are excited for him to make his first start as a member of the Red Sox.
“We knew he was going to be a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Red Sox infielder Alex Cora told his team’s official Web site. “It was just a matter of time getting him healthy.”
In his return, Colon will face Royals pitcher Brett Tomko who is 2-4 on the season with a 5.32 ERA. Terry Francona expects that Colon’s pitch count for the game will be limited to between 85-90 pitches. He will be going for his first MLB win since June 14th 2007 and also try to extend the Sox winning streak to 6 and home winning streak at Fenway to 9.
Tonight’s first pitch is at 7:05pm EST.
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