Run Prevention, Meet Run Explosion
The Red Sox came into Tropicana Field last Monday 8.5 games behind the American League East-leading Rays. Needless to say, this was a crucial three-game series for Boston’s chances of staying in the hunt for the division title and needed to play at its best.
Simply put, Mission Accomplished.
Last Monday, the Sox got its first win against the Rays this year, 6-1. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis homered and knocked out Wade Davis in the fourth, while Boston’s Clay Buchholz got his team-leading sixth win. It was also his eighth consecutive road win, which stretches back to August 2009. The young righthander needs one more to catch up to Roger Clemens’ nine straight road wins, which he did from July 18, 1993 to April 20, 1994. That’s great company to be in, especially for a pitcher not expected to be pitching like an ace as he is right now.
In one scary incident, infielder Sean Rodriguez became the first Rays player ever to be stung by a stingray on a beach behind his St. Petersburg rental condo that Monday morning. Except for the loss of a lot of blood on his right heel, he turned out fine, had the foot treated like a cut, and crazy enough, took Carl Crawford’s place in the lineup later Monday night after the Rays star was ejected from the game in the fifth inning.
On May 25, Mike Cameron got activated from the DL to play centerfield, while Darnell McDonald was originally designated for assignment, then told that he could stay because Jacoby Ellsbury had problems in his “side.” As far as the game was concerned, Jon Lester walked five but struck out nine as he, Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon combined to pitch a one-hit 2-0 shutout, with Ortiz’s two-out, two-run double off James Shields in the third inning providing the game’s only runs.
Last Wednesday night, the Sox impressively beat Matt Garza (5-3) by a score of 11-3 behind an inconsistent, but good enough (5-3) John Lackey to sweep the Rays, outscore them 19-4 in the series and go to 5.5 GB of them for the division. Adrian Beltre, the best hitter average-wise for the Sox, showed shades of his old power stroke by homering twice and driving in six runs in all, a season-high for any Red Sox. Also worth noting: Ortiz batted third for the first time since May 24 of last year. And the way he’s swinging at the plate recently, he’ll be staying there for a while.