Game 81 - Red Sox
Red Sox 7, Rangers 3
Land o' Goshen and sakes alive, the Boston Red Sox scored 7 runs in a single regulation contest. And they did it courtesy of two critical 2-out extra-base hits. Praise the Lord and pass the smelling salts.
Dustin Pedroia's double to right plated 2 in the third, and then Erik Hinske's bases-clearing triple with a pair gone in the 5th gave the Sox their final tallies. Hinske's blow was a game-changer, as it stretched the Sox' lead back to 4 after the Rangers had scored 3 in the top of the inning to get within a single run and dredge up painful memories of a blown 4-run lead on Saturday.
Rookie centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury made his Sox debut in that Saturday game, up from Pawtucket to sub in for a banged-up Coco Crisp. Ellsbury, drafted in 2005, has been on the fast track to Fenway, pun very much intended. He's projected to be the Sox' leadoff hitter of the future, and he's displayed a stunning amount of speed in his first few games in the bigs. He legged out a single on a routine grounder to short in his first game, then rocketed home from second last night to score on a wild pitch. He had 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs and a steal yesterday - and damned if he doesn't look a little bit like pre-Neanderthal Johnny Damon. I can't remember a Sox player with his kind of wheels - must say that the prospect of an Ellsbury/Pedroia 1-2 combo for the next 10 years has me a little faint.
The win gave the Sox a split against the Rangers and helped them avoid a 3-game skid - good thing, too, because Scott Kazmir gets the ball tonight for the Rays in Boston. Careful readers will be sure to remember that even mediocre lefthanders kill the Sox, and Kazmir's anything but, even as he's struggling a bit in 2007. Daisuke takes the mound for the Sox, secure in the understanding that his mates will likely plate fewer than 2 runs on his behalf.
Finally, from the places we don't like to talk about at cocktail parties file, Papi's not homered in Fenway since April 21. If I put my hand over my ears, close my eyes, and murmur "lalalalala", it's as if that last sentence didn't ever happen.