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Friday, August 19, 2011

Andrew Miller Returns From Nowhere And Submits His Best Performance Of The Season

Andrew Miller hadn't made a start since July 31. He had only come out of the bullpen twice since then so it would be easy to excuse him for having a poor start tonight against the Kansas City Royals.

Instead, Miller (5-1) put up his best effort of the season as the Boston Red Sox won 7-1 at Kaufman Stadium (home of the 2012 MLB All-Star Game), their second victory in as many nights in Missouri.

Terry Francona wanted to hold Miller to a Little League World Series style 85 pitches and thankfully, the lefty was efficient with his pitches for once (departing after 83). He went 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The Red Sox (76-48) were able to get to Royals (51-75) starter Jeff Francis (4-14), like seemingly everyone else in MLB that has faced the former Colorado Rockie this year.

In five innings, the soft-throwing Canadian allowed five earned runs on 11 hits with two walks (both intentional to Dustin Pedroia) and a strikeout. What are the odds Francis and Bruce Chen's lockers are next to each other in the Royals clubhouse? They have so much in common, namely throwing junk and looking out of place at the highest level of baseball.

Despite a lineup that was without David Ortiz (heel) and Kevin Youkilis (on the DL with a back injury), Boston was able to churn out 13 hits led by Adrian Gonzalez (3 for 4, RBI), who snapped an 0-for-14 slump in style (are you listening Carl Crawford?) and Jed Lowrie (3 hits, run, walk).

Former Royal Mike Aviles added two hits, a run and a stolen base while rookie Ryan Lavarnway-a Yale product-got his first MLB hit with his family in the crowd.

Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly in the third gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead but Boston went ahead once and for all with two in the fourth. Darnell McDonald hit an RBI triple which scored Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury knocked in McDonald with a sacrifice fly.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia put it in the win column with a three-run homer (his 12th of the season) in the fifth off Francis.

The Red Sox pushed across two more runs in the eighth on Gonzalez's sacrifice fly and a Royals error.

Alfredo Aceves picked up his second save of the season after going 3.2 innings, allowing only one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. His 45 pitches means he's probably done for a few days but as always he did yeoman's work by saving the rest of Boston's bullpen in what turned out to be a lopsided win.

The Yankees smoked the Twins 8-1, meaning the Red Sox remain .5 games behind New York for first-place in the AL East and that all important division crown.

For the fifth time, Tim Wakefield goes for career win number 200 tomorrow night. Kansas City will start Felipe Paulino (1-9) but I'm not going to jinx it, just going to post his awesome win-loss record and let you draw your own conclusions.

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