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Postgame notes, courtesy of the Red Sox' P.R. department:
-- The Red Sox improved to 65-48 all-time on Patriots Day, including 26 doubleheaders between 1903 and 1966 . . . Boston is 59-39 at home during the holiday, including a 52-38 mark at Fenway Park . . . The Red Sox have won 5 straight and 7 of the last 8 Patriots Day contests beginning in 2001…They are 3-0 all-time against the Rangers on the holiday.
-- The Red Sox have won 5 straight games and 9 of their last 10 beginning April 12 . . . It is their longest regular-season winning streak since a 5-game run from July 20-24, 2007 . . . They won seven in a row in last year's postseason (the final three games of the ALCS and all four World Series games) . . . They have won each of their last 6 home games, their longest home winning streak since 6 straight from April 12-22, 2007 . . . Boston is 10-1-2 in its last 13 regular-season home series beginning July 19, 2007, the lone setback being 1-2 vs. the Yankees last September 14-16.
--- Boston swept Texas in a 4 game series for the first time since August 4-6, 2001 at Fenway Park.
--- The Red Sox have 117 hits in their last 10 contests and have posted 11 or more knocks in 8 of their last 9 games . . . Boston is batting .338 (117-for-346) with 69 runs scored in that span . . . Over the last 15 games the club has a .320 average (163-for-509), improving its season figure from .242 to .297 . . . The Sox set a season high with 11 walks today, their most in a game since working 11 free passes on July 13, 2006 vs. Oakland.
-- Clay Buchholz earned his first win since a relief victory on September 6, 2007 at Baltimore and his first win as a starter since his no-hitter on September 1, 2007 against the Orioles at Fenway Park . . . He matched a season high with 6.0 innings pitched, the longest scoreless outing by a Red Sox pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka blanked the Tigers for 6.2 frames on April 8 in Boston . . . He has thrown at least 6.0 innings in all 4 of his career starts at Fenway Park, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA (4 ER/27.0 IP) in those contests . . . He has 40 strikeouts in 43.1 career innings, an average of 8.2 K’s per 9 innings pitched.
-- David Ortiz has hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games, going 11-for-36 (.305) with a homer, 2 doubles, 12 RBI, 6 runs and 4 multi-hit performances, raising his average from .070 to a season-high .177 during that time . . . He has driven in 2 or more runs in each of his last 2 games and in 3 of his last 4, with 11 total RBI in that time.
-- Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in each of his last 10 games, batting .436 (17-for-39) with 6 doubles, a homer, 10 RBI, 9 runs, 4 walks and a steal…It is his longest
streak since a career-high 14-game tear from May 19-June 4, 2007. He is batting .404 (19-for-47) with a homer, 6 doubles, 10 RBI, 10 runs, 5 walks and 2 steals over his last 12 games, including 7 multi-hit efforts, to improve from .250 to .337 . . . He leads the majors with 11 multi-hit games overall . . . He has driven in 10 runs in his last 8 games after just one in his first 13 contests . . . Pedroia has reached base safely in 18 of 21 games, including 15 of the last 17 . . . He is batting .377 (52-for-138) over his last 34 games at Fenway Park beginning August 1, 2007.
-- Jacoby Ellsbury has stolen 2 bases in each of his last 2 games, and in 3 of his last 5 . . . All 8 of his steals this year have come in his last 10 contests . . . He has been
successful on all 17 attempts in his major league career . . . He has scored at least one run in each of his last 5 games and in 10 of his last 11 with 15 total in that time . . . He is 10-for-30
(.333) with 11 walks during that stretch, raising his season average from .176 to .277 . . . He has walked 13 times in 19 games this season . . . Ellsbury has reached base safely in 43 of his 47 big league games with a plate appearance with hits in 37 of those games . . . Boston has won 10 straight games this year when he has scored at least one run, and is 10-1 on the season in those games.
--- Julio Lugo has hit safely in each of his last 7 games, going 12-for-28 (.429) with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 2 steals and 4 runs, raising his season average from .238 to .314 in that time . . . It is his longest streak since a 15-game run from July 8-26, 2007 . . . Collected 4 hits today, his most since a 4-hit effort on May 12, 2007 vs. Baltimore . . . He has tallied 3 or more hits in a game twice in his last 6 contests.
-- J.D. Drew walked twice in the 4th inning, matching a major league record for walks in a single frame.
-- The Rangers have now lost 9 of their last 11 games…They are now 12-36 at Fenway Park over the last 12 seasons, beginning in 1998 . . . The 11 walks issued by the Rangers today are their most since tallying 12 walks on April 20, 2007 vs. Oakland.
-- Kason Gabbard left today’s game with back stiffness after warming up to begin the 3rd inning . . . He tossed 2.0 innings today, his shortest start since a 1.1 inning outing on August 12, 2007 vs. Tampa Bay . . . He had won each of his first 5 starts at Fenway Park to begin his major league career, tied with Ed Figueroa (July 12, 1974-July 30, 1976) and Bret Saberhagen (May 25, 1984-May 3, 1988) for the 2nd longest such streak in the majors since 1956 . . . Tim Wakefield leads in that category with wins in 7 starts from June 4-August 13, 1995 . . . Gabbard is 3-0 with a 4.39 ERA (27 ER/55.1 IP) in his last 11 starts beginning August 7, 2007 . . . He is 1-0 with a 2.18 ERA (5 ER/20.2 IP) in his last 4 starts.
-- Hank Blalock extended his hitting streak to 8 games with a single in the 3rd inning . . . He is batting .424 (14-for-33) with 2 homers, 5 RBI, 5 runs and 3 walks during that stretch . . . It is his longest hitting streak since a 12-game tear from July 30-August 11, 2006…He has reached base safely in 16 of 18 games this season.
-- Dustin Nippert today allowed 8 runs, all earned, in 2.1 innings or work . . . It is the most runs allowed by a Rangers reliever since Doug Brocail surrendered 8 runs (6 earned) over 2.0 innings on September 7, 2005 at Minnesota . . . The last Ranger to allow 8 or more earned runs in a relief outing was Doug Davis, who gave up 10 over 2.1 innings on August 9, 1999 vs. Toronto.
Posted by Art Martone at 3:46 PM | Permalink
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Inside the Game -- Sox 8, Rangers 3 / Photo
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz pitches in the 1st inning of today's game against Texas.
BOSTON – Clay Buchholz is only 23 years old and, as a rookie, he will go through a few trials and tribulations.
But he’s wise beyond his years when it comes to mixing his pitches and keeping the opposition off-balance.
Two early Texas at-bats speak to that pitch-selection maturity, aided, of course, by the calls of the catcher, in this case Kevin Cash.
In the second inning, Buchholz thoroughly confused Rangers’ designated hitter Jason Botts. Buchholz slipped a 93-m.p.h. fastball past Botts for strike one, and then Botts flailed and badly missed a 76 m.p.h. curveball for strike two.
Botts clearly was expecting another curveball, or something offspeed. Buchholz, though, delivered a 93 m.p.h. fastball, and Botts missed it, his swing late.
One inning later, Buchholz befuddled Josh Hamilton, who entered the game batting .299. Hamilton swung through a 76 m.p.h. changeup for strike one. Then he couldn’t hold up and foul-tipped a 74 m.p.h. changeup.
Down, 0 and 2, Hamilton, who had waved and missed a 76 m.p.h. curveball for a whiff in the first, apparently was looking for another offspeed pitch. He didn’t move a muscle as Buchholz whipped a 91 m.p.h. fastball past him for a called third strike.
David Ortiz had a few big hits in the four-game series with the Rangers, showing flashes of his dominant presence at the plate.
Still, he hasn’t yet found a consistent groove, as evidenced by his ups and downs yesterday. He’s not quite locked in, though he’s getting closer.
In the third inning, for instance, Big Papi came to the plate with runners at first and third and none out in a 0-0 game. It was gimme RBI opportunity for Ortiz, who has knocked in at least 117 runs in each of the last four seasons.
The count reached 1 and 2 when Texas reliever Dustin Nippert hung an 83 m.p.h. slider on the outer half of the plate. It was a pitch that, when he’s in his groove, Ortiz crushes to left-center. But Ortiz pulled off the ball and barely stayed alive on a foul tip.
Nippert’s next pitch was away, too. This time it was a 93 m.p.h. fastball. Ortiz again pulled off the pitch and was unable to reach it, swinging and missing for a strikeout.
Ortiz wasn’t able to drive the ball to left field in his next at-bat, either, but he got a break when Milton Bradley lost his routine high fly ball in the sun, the ball falling behind the outfielder for a gift RBI double, capping the Sox’ five-run rally.
But in the fifth, Ortiz managed to keep his front shoulder in and drive a pitch on the outer half of the plate off the Green Monster for a two-run double that put Boston on top, 8-0.
Good things happen to good teams. And vice versa.
The Red Sox are a good team. The Rangers are not.
Take a look at the bottom of the fourth, when Boston pushed across five runs for a 5-0 lead.
It started with a four-pitch walk. Then Nippert balked him to second, wheeling to make a throw to first and then inexplicably holding the ball. Lowrie tried to sacrifice. It was a terrible bunt, popped up. But the placement was perfect toward the shortstop grass, the ball falling for a single. Lugo bounced a 15-hopper up the middle, perfectly placed over the bag between the shortstop and second baseman for an RBI.
Lugo committed a mistake and was trapped off first on Kevin Cash’s weak popup/liner to second, a seemingly easy double play, but Kinsler’s throw to first short-hopped Ben Broussard and got away for an error, allowing a run to score.
Ellsbury reached when shortstop Michael Young fielded his roller in the hole and threw wide to first. Pedroia ripped a two-run double to right-center for the only hard-hit ball of the inning. Then Ortiz and the Sox got a gift RBI double when left fielder Milton Bradley lost Ortiz’ high fly in the sun, the ball almost hitting Bradley on the head as he sank to the turf, trying to protect himself.
Baserunning instincts – the good and the not so good.
* J.D. Drew showed good instincts in moving from first to second on a wild pitch in the second.
As Kason Gabbard delivered his pitch to the plate, Drew moved out to his secondary lead. Then, seeing the ball was going to be in the dirt, Drew started his momentum toward second, just in case the ball got away from catcher Gerald Laird.
The ball did indeed bounce up on Laird and roll only a few feet away. Not every baserunner would have then dashed toward second. But because Drew had anticipated the ball would hit the dirt, he was able to take off and make it to second base without a throw even though Laird quickly pounced on the wild pitch.
* Jacoby Ellsbury, who generally makes outstanding baserunning decisions, got caught in no-man’s land between third and home and was tagged out on a double play that was scored 8-2-4-2 on Kevin Youkilis’ fly ball to center with runners at first and third and one out.
Ellsbury tagged, went halfway to the plate and then retreated to third as Dustin Pedroia attempted to take second on the throw home. When the Rangers threw to second to try to nail Pedroia, Ellsbury started home again as Pedroia raced back to the uncovered first-base bag. Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler saw Ellsbury, had him trapped and threw to catcher Gerald Laird for the putout.
* Jed Lowrie scampered quickly from first to third on Julio Lugo’s chopper over the second-base bag in the fourth, making a nice, crisp turn at second and easily beating a throw to third. Most baserunners would have stopped at second.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 3:06 PM | Permalink
Final: Red Sox 8, Rangers 3
Now that the Red Sox game is over, the 37,539 in attendance at Fenway Park just started chanting "Let's Go Bruins!"
The Bruins will face the Canadiens in Game Seven of their first-round playoff series tonight in Montreal.
The Red Sox dispatched the Rangers, 8-3.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 2:35 PM | Permalink
Injured Gabbard Leaves
Rangers starter Kason Gabbard, who was part of the Sox' trade to Texas last year that brought Eric Gagne to Boston, left the game before the bottom of the third because of stiffness in his back.
Gabbard's left foot slipped on top of the rubber as he prepared to throw a 2-and-0 pitch to Kevin Youkilis, leading off the second. The left-hander remained in the game after being checked by manager Ron Washington and the training staff, but his command was off.
Gabbard walked three batters in the second, and also bounced a pitch in the dirt for a wild pitch. He did not allow a run, however. Gabbard went back to the mound to warm up for the third inning as Dustin Nippert warmed up in the bullpen, just in case Gabbard wasn't healthy enough to continue.
After throwing a few warmup pitches, Gabbard summoned Washington and the training staff and, after a brief discussion, left the game. Nippert took over.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:05 PM | Permalink
Ramirez Named Co-Player of the Week
Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has been named the American League Co-Player of the Week, sharing the honors with the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera.
Ramirez, who has today off, hit .417 (10-for-24) with four homers and eight RBI in seven games. It is the 16th time Ramirez has earned this honor, which is the the most by any player in history.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:53 AM | Permalink
Wakefield rooting for Bruins
Tim Wakefield likes the Bruins’ chances tonight.
The Red Sox pitcher is a casual hockey fan and he’s quite interested in Game Seven between the Bruins and Habs tonight in Montreal.
The veteran knuckleballer and the Red Sox know all too well what it means to be the underdog. The Sox had one of the greatest comebacks in the history of professional sports during the ALCS in 2004. Boston was 0-3 to the Yankees, but won four straight, including Games Six and Seven in New York to win. Then the Sox swept the Cardinals for their first World Series title in 86 years.
Last season, the Cleveland Indians had a 3-1 advantage on the Sox in the ALCS and, again, Boston came back to win.
Wakefield believes the Bruins can do the same tonight.
“It’s a must win,” he said. “It was a must win in Game Six. You either win or you go home. That was our philosophy here in 2004 against the Yankees and against last year against the Indians. Sometimes you play your best when your backs are against the wall. You never want it to come down to that.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:09 AM | Permalink
Pregame Notes, Patriots Day
-- The Sox' lineup has the look of a split-squad game because Manny Ramirez, as he was promised, has the day off from the starting lineup, catcher Jason Varitek is suffering from the flu and Coco Crisp remains shelved because of a hamstring injury.
So Jed Lowrie will be at third base, with Kevin Youkilis moving to first, giving Sean Casey a day off with a left-hander, former Sox hurler Kason Gabbard, on the mound for Texas. Kevin Cash is catching in place of Varitek, and Joe Thurston will be in Ramirez's spot in left field.
-- Manager Terry Francona doesn't think Crisp needs to be placed on the disabled list, but he said that while the outfielder is "close" to returning, he's still not ready. Francona added that he didn't feel comfortable playing someone who isn't quite ready because he doesn't want to risk a setback. So on Sunday, with the team out of outfielders in the late innings because of Ramirez's ejection and a pinch-hitting situation that sent Thurston to the bench, Francona said he did not go to Crisp to ask him if he could play because he didn't want Crisp to say "yes" out of a feeling of duty and then hurt his hamstring even worse.
-- Third baseman Mike Lowell (sprained left thumb) is likely to take batting practice on the field tomorrow. If he can do so without pain and without causing swelling in the thumb, he may be only a few days away from a rehab assignment in Pawtucket. When he does return, Lowell will wear some type of protective device in his glove to protect him in case he has to make a diving play in the field.
-- Ramirez was tossed out of Sunday's game in the second inning, but Francona said that, while he thought about the situation, he decided not to alter his plan to give Manny today off from the starting lineup. He figured it wouldn't be proper to change the plan because Ramirez had been looking forward to the day off and "we have a pretty good thing going with Manny right now." So Ramirez will rest and Francona will be expecting Thurston to provide energy, which tends to be in short supply for an 11 a.m. game.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 9:18 AM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, Patriots Day
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 9:16 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Monday, April 21
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
TEXAS THREE-STEP: The Red Sox have left the Rangers -- or at least the Dallas Morning News' Rangers blogger, Evan Grant -- speechless with three consecutive victories that leapfrogged each other on the can-you-top-this? implausibility scale. Friday's 11-3 win wasn't that implausible; it just featured an improbable hero: David Ortiz, whose slumbering bat awoke with a grand slam and five RBI. Paul Kenyon has the details. Saturday night had an implausible ending with a probable hero: Manny Ramirez, whose two-run laser off the light towers capped a three-run eighth-inning that lifted the Sox to a 5-3 win (at just about the same the time the Bruins were finishing off the Canadiens across town, tying their best-of-seven playoff series at 3-3). Joe McDonald provides the story of Ramirez' heroics. And yesterday . . . McDonald recounts an afternoon in which the Sox lost Ramirez in the second inning, fell behind 5-0, wasted opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, but all of which only served as a prelude to a four-run eighth inning -- with everything happening after the first two batters were retired -- that carried Boston to a 6-5 win. Dustin Pedroia's pinch-hit double (above) tied the score, and the winning run scored when Sean Casey, after falling behind 1-and-2, worked C.J. Wilson for a two-out, bases-loaded walk.
It was a comeback, and a weekend, that shows the Red Sox' talent and tenacity, says Jim Donaldson. And after 20 games, their record sits at 13-7, exactly the same as it was after 20 games last year. (baseball-reference.com)
THE BEST-LAID PLANS . . . The ejection of Ramirez left the Sox with Joe Thurston in the cleanup spot for a good portion of the day, and, in his Inside The Game feature, Steven Krasner notes that gave the Rangers some options as to whether or not to pitch to Ortiz. Big Papi came up four times after Manny was tossed and, as Krasner notes, Texas manager Ron Washington batted .500 in making that decision.
INSIDE PITCH: Krasner also went Inside The Game on Friday and Saturday. The first time, he looks at the confidence boost Ortiz' grand slam gave the entire Red Sox batting order. (In his Hacks with Haggs blog, Joe Haggerty relates a spring-training conversation with Ortiz in which Ortiz talked of his normal offseason routine being altered because of his knee surgery, which may have caused his slow start.) The next night, Krasner notes that Texas had plenty of chances to put the game away before Ramirez' eighth-inning blast.
COMING UP SHORT: After having seen him play at Portland, Chad Finn doesn't think flavor-of-the-month Jed Lowrie can cut it defensively at shortstop over the long haul. But he does think Lowrie has a big-league future "and it is barely an exaggeration to say he's helped the Sox more in his first week here than shortstop incumbent Julio Lugo has in a year-plus." (touchingallthebases.blogspot.com)
ON HOLD: The flu bug is working its way though the Red Sox clubhouse, so the front office called Pawtucket and had the PawSox pull David Pauley from his scheduled start yesterday, in case he's needed to fill in for an ailing Boston starter in the next day or two. The PawSox, report Kenyon, were none the worse for wear, however, as Edgar Martinez and three other relievers shut down Buffalo.
RINGS OF HONOR: Kenyon also has details of a mini-ring ceremony at McCoy Stadium on Saturday, as Jeff Bailey, Brandon Moss, Devern Hansack and Kyle Snyder received their World Series jewelry from director of player development Mike Hazen.
DOWN FURTHER ON THE FARM: Justin Masterson is lighting up the sky in Portland. (rotoworld.com)
THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL, THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK . . . and Kyle Farnsworth swears his fastball just "slipped" when it sailed behind Manny Ramirez' head Thursday night. That slip cost Farnsworth a three-game suspension, which, of course, he's appealing. (New York Daily News) The Yankees are shocked, shocked I tell you, at the penalty. (New York Post) Carolyn Thornton reports that Manny's not exactly buying Farnsworth's claims of innocence, but he's not blaming him, either, saying it's all just part of the game. In any case, Bill Madden of the Daily News gives voice to the majority feeling in Yankee Universe when he asserts the Yanks have a long way to go to even the score in the Boston-New York beanball battle.
I FEEL YOUR PAIN: The same injury that sidelined Derek Jeter -- a strained quad -- struck Alex Rodriguez yesterday in the Yankees' victory over the Orioles. (New York Daily News)
PUTTING THE GAME ASIDE: Joba Chamberlain thanked everyone who sent along best wishes during his father's illness, including a group of Red Sox fans. (LoHud Yankees blog)
END OF THE LINE: Chamberlain pitched yesterday for the first time since leaving the team last Sunday and saw his scoreless streak end. (New York Post)
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The struggles of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy have Hank Steinbrenner wanting Chamberlain in the starting rotation, and he wants him there now. (New York Times)
THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS: The Post's Mike Vaccaro says we're living through the Golden Age of baseball.
THEY SCREAM: Both the Yankees (LoHud Yankees blog) and the Red Sox (Boston Herald) have banned ice cream from their clubhouses.
BIGGEST HURT: One day after he complained about being benched -- or at least losing playing time -- Frank Thomas was released by the Blue Jays. (Toronto Star) Our pal the Tao of Steib doesn't seem to mind, though Baseball Musing's David Pinto thinks there's more to this than meets the eye. As for Thomas' future, the Rangers don't appear to be interested (Dallas Morning News) but the Mariners might give him a call. (mlb.com)
WELL, THAT EXPLAINS IT: The White Sox went 88 years -- from 1917, when they won the World Series in six games over the New York Giants, to 2005, when they swept the Astros -- between championships, and you don't have to look far to find people who blame it all on the Black Sox scandal of 1919. (Punishment for mortal sin, don't you know.) If that's so, news that the Cubs may have thrown the 1918 World Series to the Red Sox puts their 100-years-and-counting drought into a different light. (sportingnews.com)
AFTER ALL, YOU'D NEVER SEE NEW YORK FANS BEHAVE THIS WAY: The Mets have no use for the Phillie fans who cheered when Jose Reyes suffered a head injury Friday night. (New York Post)
BIG DEAL: The A's, his original team, are nonplussed about the news that Miguel Tejada lied about his age when Oakland signed him and is actually two years older than he said. (San Francisco Chronicle)
'I FEEL GREAT': Doug Davis, who underwent surgery for thyroid cancer on April 10, is back with the Diamondbacks and, in a perfect world, would love to pitch May 9 against the Cubs. (Arizona Republic)
HERE AND THERE: NL MVP Jimmy Rollins has finally gone on the disabled list after insisting for two weeks that his injured ankle was just about healed (Philadelphia Inquirer) . . . The end of his 14-game hitting streak meant the end of Eric Byrnes' mustache. (Arizona Republic)
OLD FRIENDS: Matt Murton has returned to the Cubs (mlb.com) . . . Keith Foulke is headed to the disabled list because of a stiff neck (San Francisco Chronicle) . . . Lenny DiNardo has been removed from the A's starting rotation (San Francisco Chronicle) . . . Joe Torre isn't quite sure how to use the slumping Nomar Garciaparra. (Los Angeles Times)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 9:00 AM | Permalink
Flu bug hits Sox clubhouse
A nasty flu bug is making its way through the Red Sox clubhouse right now, so when PawSox pitcher David Pauley was a last-minute scratch from his start today at McCoy Stadium, there was some thought he might be on his way to Boston to start for Clay Buchholz today against the Rangers.
That’s not the case. In fact, the team sent Buchholz home very early today so he wouldn’t be hanging around with the possibility of getting sick. Pauley is on call just in case any of the starters contract the bug.
Catcher Jason Varitek is so sick he needed someone to pick him up at home yesterday and bring him to the ballpark. He received treatment and was sent home.
“Tek looked awful,” said Francona. “He looked bad. The bug is working its way around, like it always does. Hopefully it’ll stay away from the manager.”
The team even sent some of the training staff home in order to keep the damage in the clubhouse to a minimum.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 8:58 AM | Permalink
Who was right Ramirez or the ump: Go with Manny
By Joe McDonald
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON _ Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has questioned a lot of calls this season, probably more than usual. It’s also no secret he has a keen eye when it comes to the strike zone and he doesn’t argue that often. When he does it’s a safe bet he’s probably right.
He was ejected from today's game in the bottom of the second inning by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel. Ramirez was called out on strikes and as he left the batter's box he said something to Emmel. Put it this way, you don't have to be a good lip reader to figure out what Ramirez said. It's the fourth time in his career he's been tossed. Joe Thurston took his spot in the lineup.
“I think there may have been something said there,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who came out to talk with Emmel to no avail. “Maybe they were balls. Manny doesn’t usually say much unless he’s got a pretty valid point. He knows that strike zone pretty well. We all agree with that.”
His ejection almost proved crucial in the eighth inning, but his teammates came through.
The Red Sox were in the midst of a comeback and were down a run when the No. 4 spot in the order came up, which is almost always Ramirez’s spot. Thurston was 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in Ramirez’s place and was scheduled to come up with two outs in the eighth. Francona elected to give Dustin Pedroia, who was originally given the day off, an opportunity to pinch-hit.
Fortunately for the Sox the second baseman drove in the game-tying run and later scored the eventual game-winning run in the 6-5 win.
Speaking of days off, Ramirez was originally scheduled to have today off – only if Coco Crisp (hamstring) is able to play – since he’s played in all 20 games so far this season. Because of the ejection Francona said he didn’t know if Ramirez would be back in the lineup today.
The Rangers will start lefty Kason Gabbard, which makes the decision a little tougher. Plus, Ramirez is locked in like crazy right now.
Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield picked up his second win of the season today. The knuckleballer worked a season-high eight innings and allowed five runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches and 68 of them were strikes. Wakefield did surrender two home runs, including a lead-off shot to the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler in the first inning and a three-run blast to Milton Bradley in the sixth.
“That’s the most strikes I’ve ever seen him throw,” said Francona. “He was throwing strike after strike and the ball had movement and that’s a good formula.”
The Red Sox offense scored a total of six runs in the seventh and eighth inning to give the veteran the victory.
“I was hoping for a comeback, obviously,” said Wakefield.
It’s that time of year again when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts celebrates Patriots Day. The Boston Marathon takes place tomorrow, and the Red Sox will play their annual 11 a.m. game. Francona actually enjoys this day for a number of different reasons. His last major-league at-bat came on Patriots Day in 1990 when he was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, who beat the Red Sox 18-0. Francona played in one more game after that and served as a pinch before he was sent to the minors where he career ended.
Now as a manager he enjoys this day.
“I wouldn’t want to do it every day,” he said. “But I think it’s kind of a neat day with all the stuff that goes on. The atmosphere and the game is part of that, so for one day it’s okay. For the coaches it’s no big deal because we’re here anyway. I think getting your engine revved up as players can be a little different.”
The Red Sox are 64-48 all-time on Patriots Day. The club has been scheduled to play on this day every year since 1959.
Francona mistakenly thought Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon would take today off from playing catch, but the veteran right-hander, who has been dealing with an oblique issue, was in right field toss the pearl around with trainer Mike Reinold. Francona said he got the days mixed up. Colon will take today off and begin his throwing program at 90 to 120 feet on Tuesday.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 8:33 AM to McDonald
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