Thursday, April 22, 2010
Quick hits: Sox 8, Rangers 7
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- Quick hits on Red Sox 8, Rangers 7, in 12 innings:
* Second straight night of walk-off dramatics, this time with Kevin Youkilis doubling home Marco Scutaro in the bottom of the 12th. Scutaro had singled and advanced to second on J.D. Drew’s fly ball to center. After Dustin Pedroia was walked intentionally, Youkilis hammered a 3-and-2 breaking ball off the wall just to the left of the flagpole in center.
* The Rangers have lost six in a row and are 5-9 despite having held a lead in 13 of the 14 games they’ve played. On Tuesday night, they couldn’t hold a 5-1 lead, and on Wednesday night they lost a 4-0 lead. The wheels are rapidly coming off a season of high expectations, with the sale of the club hitting unexpected snags and manager Ron Washington on the hot seat after testing positive for cocaine last summer.
* Biggest play in the Sox's winning rally was Scutaro tagging and reaching second safely, just ahead of the throw by center fielder Julio Borbon. “He retreated real quick,’’ manager Terry Francona said, referring to how Scutaro had gone nearly halfway, then went back to first to tag up. “Great base running.’’
* Washington, on why he elected to intentionally walk Pedroia to face cleanup man Youkilis, who drove a full-count curveball from Dustin Nippert off the wall in left-center: “I’ve seen that little guy at second base hit too much stuff off that Monster lately.’’
* Let the controversy begin. Mike Lowell hit a home run and Wall-ball single as Sox DH the night after pinch hitting for David Ortiz. Francona was playing RH batter vs. LH pitcher when he started Lowell against lefty Matt Harrison, but made no attempt to pinch hit Ortiz against a series of Texas righty relievers. Lowell will start again Thursday against left-hander C.J. Wilson.
* Let the Darnell McDonald fairy tale continue. McDonald, who lost a 50-yard match race to a gelding named Zippy Chippy in a minor-league promotion nine years ago in Rochester, N.Y., hit his second home run and walked twice in his first start for the Sox in center field. He also threw out a runner at the plate, though the play was made by catcher Jason Varitek, who blocked Borbon from scoring in the fourth.
* Drew, who had been even more feeble than Ortiz entering the game (.133, 19 Ks in 45 ABs) hit a grand slam just inside the Pesky Pole with a sweeping, one-handed swing. Drew had the worst BA among the 98 big-leaguers with 100 or more ABs with the bases loaded, .206, before connecting.
* The team supposedly built on its starting pitching got another forgettable start from a member of its Big Three, this time Josh Beckett, who trailed 4-0 after two innings, was given a 7-4 lead, then saw a high fastball absolutely incinerated by Josh Hamilton, whose three-run homer in the seventh tied it at 7. It was the first home run of the season by Hamilton, and his first off Beckett, with whom he is linked in history: Hamilton was the No. 1 pick overall in the ’99 draft by Tampa Bay, Beckett was chosen next by Florida. The Sox's starting pitching, which came into the game last in the league in staff ERA, is now at 5.76 (55 ER in 86 IP).
* Some fabulous late-inning flame-throwing on both sides, by Neftali Feliz of the Rangers, who lit up the scoreboard with three-figure gun readings, and Daniel Bard, who was a mile or two slower at 97-98. Jonathan Papelbon’s mid-90s stuff was good enough for two scoreless innings in which he threw 15 pitches, 13 for strikes. And Hideki Okajima, who like Bard has appeared in nine of the team’s first 15 games, struck out two of the batters he faced in the 12th, his value to the team impossible to overstate.
The Rangers' bullpen retired 18 in a row from one out in sixth to one out in the 12th, when Scutaro singled off Nippert.
Bard, Papelbon and Okajima combined for five scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
* The Rangers, after a club-record nine stolen bases Tuesday night, swiped only three Wednesday, with Jason Varitek catching instead of Victor Martinez. That was the good news. The bad news was Varitek whiffed four times.