Thursday, May 17, 2012
Red Sox Salvage A Split In Tampa Bay
Boston (18-20, 9-9 away) snapped Tampa Bay's (24-15, 14-4 home) four-game win streak by combining adequate pitching with some timely hitting. What a concept! They also won a close game after losing 2-1 on Wednesday night. It was the Red Sox' sixth win in their last seven contests.
Cody Ross drove in four RBIs in the victory, all with two outs. He was 2 for 4 with a solo homer and also walked. Marlon Byrd hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox.
Felix Doubront (4-1) had his typical performance: he was good while he was out there but he didn't last particularly long. In 5.2 innings, he allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. As he gets more experience, he'll hopefully realize that strikeouts aren't as important as getting deep into games and saving your bullpen.
Bobby Valentine did his best Tony La Russa impression as he used three relievers in a row to face one specific Rays batter. Ugh, there should be a limit on stuff like that in a baseball game. It doesn't help the fact that all five of Boston's starting pitchers are in the Top 7 in MLB for longest times between pitches. It must have effectively lulled the Rays to sleep though since Rich Hill, Scott Atchison and Andrew Miller all did their jobs-retiring one batter.
Vicente Padilla pitched an inning and Alfredo Aceves entered with two outs in the eighth and allowed an inherited runner to score but he managed to close the door with a 1-2-3 ninth for his eighth save of the season.
Tampa Bay rookie Matt Moore (1-4) is going to be a star, despite the fact that he's struggling a bit now while he adjusts to MLB competition. He went six innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk.
The Red Sox scored a run in the first, second and third innings to open with a 3-0 lead. Ross walked with the bases loaded in the first, Byrd homered to left in the second and Ross (7th of the season) hit his homer to center in the third.
Jeff Keppinger (2 hits) brought the Rays back with an RBI single in the third and Rich Thompson cut it to 3-2 with an RBI single in the fourth. Tampa Bay's shift on Ross completely backfired in the eighth since what would have been an easy ground out to the shortstop turned into a two-run single that scored Dustin Pedroia (2 hits) and David Ortiz.
B.J. Upton greeted Aceves with an RBI single but Boston's closer recovered to get Luke Scott to ground out with runners on second and third to end the eighth.
It's crazy that it's already here but interleague play starts tomorrow across MLB and the Red Sox get a juicy matchup with the Phillies (20-19, 5th in NL East) at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Daniel Bard (3-4) faces Cole Hamels (5-1) tomorrow night (7:05 p.m., NESN), Jon Lester (2-3) gets Joe Blanton (4-3) on Saturday night (7:15 p.m., NESN) and Josh Beckett (3-4) opposes Cliff Lee (0-1) on Sunday afternoon (1:35 p.m., NESN). As always, like a true drug dealer, MLB gives us a taste of the good stuff (interleague play) and then takes three weeks off before firing it up again in a big way with five series in a row during June.
On paper, two of the three games are not good matchups for the Red Sox (Friday and Sunday). Add in the fact that Citizens Bank is a launching pad and Boston really struggled last season in NL parks (no DH) so this will be a tough weekend even though the Phillies' offense has been really poor. Who would have guessed when this series rolled around that both these teams with high expectations would be in fifth-place in their respective loaded divisions?
I was lamenting the other day about how the Red Sox have played so many dogs lately but you won't be hearing me say that for the next month. Check out this insanely difficult stretch for Boston: two in Tampa Bay, three in Philly, three in Baltimore, three vs. Tampa Bay, four vs. Detroit, three at Toronto, three vs. Baltimore, three vs. Washington and three at Miami. The Cubs series which is four weeks away is the next time that the Red Sox play a truly bad team and yes, I know the Tigers (18-20) haven't been so hot lately but they'll almost certainly improve.
Here is the Red Sox 2012 interleague schedule: three at Philly, three vs. Washington, three at Miami, three at Cubs, three vs. Miami, three vs. Atlanta