Game 145 – Red Sox
Devil Rays 1, Red Sox 0
Tip of the cap to Scott Kazmir, who dominated the Sox last night, striking out 10 and allowing 5 hits over 7 innings.
Last night’s lineup was a sure sign that Terry Francona is at least as concerned with the care and feeding of his horses in preparation for the postseason as he is with winning every game down the stretch. David Ortiz and J.D. Drew got the night off against the tough lefty Kazmir, and with Manny Ramirez still nursing his strained oblique, the lineup read like a Spring Training split squad affair. Dustin Pedroia batted third, with Bobby Kielty in the 5-hole and Julio Lugo manning the DH slot and leading off. I agree in principle with Francona’s plan, but I can’t say I like the short term results.
In diametric opposition to Daisuke Matsuzaka’s stretch-run troubles, Curt Schilling seems to be rounding into form at exactly the right time. Hard luck loser once again, Schilling only yielded a single run to the Rays over 6 innings. In his last 4 outings, the 41 year-old had given up 7 ER and allowed 26 baserunners in 25 innings, good for a 2.52 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. I’ve heard that he’s pretty decent in the postseason, as well.
The Sox’ AL East magic number stalls at 14 for another day, with Tim Wakefield taking the mound tonight against the Rays (who’ve won 13 of their last 17 to get Joe Maddon a 2-year contract extension). Righthander Andy Sonnenstine takes the ball for Tampa, stirring mild hopes that the Sox’ lineup may, in fact, include at least 8 major league hitters – the Mirabelli/Cash Wakefield caddy slot notwithstanding.
In less relevant but much more fun news, Wily Mo Pena continued his assault on National League pitching last night, blasting a pair of homers against the Marlins. The free-swinging outfielder has 7 longballs in 72 NL at-bats, as compared to the 5 he hit in a Boston uniform in 156 trips to the plate. He’s batting .264 and – more importantly – slugging .569 for the Nationals now that’s he’s in the lineup every day. Good for Wily Mo, and good for the Nationals.