Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jason Varitek Heating Up At The Plate...Boston 8 Toronto 4

Could it be? Is Jason Varitek FINALLY getting hot at the plate? His teammates say he has been hitting the ball hard and on the nose for more than a week, and last night's home run was his third in as many games. Boston defeated the Blue Jays by a score of 8-4. Paul Byrd was the starting Red Sox pitcher and clearly did not have his best stuff, but he battled through six innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four. If that's Paul Byrd when he's pitching so-so, we'll take it. Masterson, the resurgent Hideki Okajima and Jonathon Papelbon, in a non-save situation, provided three innings of scoreless relief as the Red Sox won round one of this three game set. Paul Byrd had a few words to say about his new catcher and Jason Varitek reciprocated in assessing the new Sox guy in the rotation...

"I knew he was a good catcher, but he's a great receiver," Byrd said. "He's really good. He blocks the ball better than I thought he did. What he brings behind the plate, a wealth of knowledge against the hitters is great. I've enjoyed throwing to him. I think we've gelled pretty quickly."

"I'm still learning him, to be honest," Varitek said. "The first day there was a little bit of uncertainty early because I wasn't sure how hitters react to him. You use those first three of four innings to get a bit of a read. Today, there was much more rhythm."

Byrd has faced the Jays in his last three starts, two while with Boston and the first with Cleveland, so he's anxious to pitch against someone else. And he'll get his wish in five more days. And Colon will be back after two more rehab starts and Josh Beckett SHOULD be pitching against the Yankees on Tuesday. Wakes will be back after Beckett and before Colon.

OK, how about the offense? Boston broke open a 2-1 game (Toronto was ahead) in the fourth inning with four big ones. The Jays scored two in the bottom of that fourth, but that was it for them. After scoring two more in the eighth, the Sox had their 74th win of the year. They have 54 lossses, which is the EXACT SAME record as the Twinkies. The White Sox are a half game behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race because Minnesota, home of my girlfriend Nadia, took over first place in the AL Central. Every win, every game is vital from now until the start of October for Boston. Pedey Pedroia and Jason Varitek were the batting stars as the Red Sox, without the starting left side of their infield and the right side of their outfield, looked like a playoff club.

The news about JD Drew is not nearly as rosy as last night's outcome. I read that there is a chance his back problem might be caused by a herniated disc, and that's something that doesn't go away without medical intervention. I wish him well, but I do not expect to see him anytime soon. I hope I'm wrong--the results of his recent MRI have not been made public. I had a misplaced disc a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. It was no fun.

Thanks for stopping in once again. I really appreciate it. I hope your Saturday will be a great one, and it'll be Red Sox baseball time at 1:05pm EDT. Jon Lester will go against Jesse Litsch. GO SOX! Just click on this post's title for more on last night's Canadian win, and as always, BE WELL.

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