Red Sox Beat Tigers DESPITE Their Bullpen
It was a night of thrills and chills, some of them unwanted ones, Thursday at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were facing the Tigers, and Tim Wakefield was on the mound. He went 5 innings and gave up 2 runs, one earned and only three hits. His control was not there, however. He gave up 5 (ouch!) walks in those 5 innings and his pitch count was 108. That's a ton of pitches for such a short outing, but he earned the victory. The bullpen could have had a better night, though. Delcarmen followed Wakes, surrendering one run in 1 2/3 innings. Not bad, not good. Okajima was called on to finish the 7th and did it with four pitches, but he was pulled before the 8th inning started, opening up manager Terry "Tito" Francona to all kinds of second guessing if something were to happen. And, Heaven forbid, it almost did. Terry said this after the game...
"You don't want to use Okajima's bullets when we've got a big lead," said Francona, mindful of the Yankees' arrival tonight with their arsenal of lefthanded bats.
Peter here...Francona wanted to save Okie and Paps for the Yankee series, but his plan had a major flaw. That flaw's name was Julian Tavarez, who entered in the 8th frame. And he quickly almost wasted the inherited 8-3 lead. Tito was forced to use Papelbon to get the last 4 outs. He did exactly that, giving up two hits along the way. Final score? 12-6 good guys. But there are chinks in the Red Sox pitching arsenal, bullpen-wise. Until Timlin gets back, and that should be today, the 'pen has its weaknesses. Aside from Paps and Okajima, there is NO ONE out there who can command an inning or two without a mini-disaster looming. Tavarez is great one day and awful the next. Little Manny Delcarmen gives up the long ball way too often. No reliever should do that. Corey (thanks Cyn) is in limbo and about to be released after two less than stellar outings. Aardasma? We don't know enough yet. As for Javier Lopez, he's good to retire a lefty here, a lefty there, but also is prone to ineffectiveness. So that leaves Timlin, Okie and Papelbon. Three men will not take a team far, so I hope the wheels in the front office are spinning wildly, as they should be.
Mike Lowell was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a strained left thumb, but Sean Casey, who has been filling in for Lowell and playing first base while Youk has slid over to the hot corner, has been an offensive force and a defensive asset. What a great acquisition he was. Great job Theo! I shudder to think of anyone else filling the role he has so far in this young 2008 season. But just because he's in there means someone is injured, and that someone happens to be Mike Lowell. Mikey thought the injury could have been much more serious and longer lasting, so a 15 day respite from the rigors of the season doesn't sound as extreme as it could have been. In the meantime, first base and third base are in capable hands. Thank goodness for that!
The Boston Red Sox have evened their record at the .500 level with the New York Yankees coming to town. Will Hankie Steinbrenner DARE show his square cement-block face in Fenway? I would tend to doubt it, but ya never know! The pitching matchups look good for the Sox because we'll miss Pettitte's turn, who took the mound last night. Here they are...
Wang vs. Buchholz...Friday night at 7:05pm EDT (NESN, YES networks, radio and internet)
Mussina vs. Beckett...Saturday afternoon at 3:55pm EDT (national game on Fox and Fox HD, radio and internet)
Hughes vs. Matsuzaka...Sunday night at 8:05pm EDT (national game on ESPN and ESPNHD, radio and internet)
So there you have it! Round one of Yankee-Red Sox baseball begins in about thirteen hours. I hope we can take two out of three. The pitching matchups suggest that. OH, please click on the title of this post for the Boston Globe's take on last night's nailbiter that should never have been a nailbiter. Have a great weekend, too. I'll be back tomorrow morning, first thing, unless there is breaking news of some sort. As always, BE WELL. GO SOX. FOREVER.