Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Terrible Twos

This one was rained out after seven innings, but thankfully, the Twins won't be complaining about this game being cut short.

On Wednesday, Player A and Player B took the mound in their respective games. Player A tossed seven innings of one-run baseball, giving up five hits, walking one and striking out four to pick up his second consecutive victory, lowering his ERA to 2.45. Player A is set to make $4 million in 2009.

Player B took the mound in his start on Wednesday and gave up seven runs, six earned, through 6.2 innings. He gave up six hits, one of which was a home run, walked four and struck out two. His offense provided him with seven runs, but Player B walked off the mound to a sea of boo's after surrendering the game-tying run, raising his ERA to 4.81. Player B will make $19 million in 2009 and $23 million annually from 2010-2015.

Player A is Tim Wakefield, and Player B, as we all know, is CC Sabathia. The Red Sox have been getting a bang for their buck in the days Wakefield has worn a Boston uniform, and even at 42-year-old, Wakefield continues to eat innings and pitch effectively in those innings. Wakefield turned in his second consecutive complete game (due to the rain cutting game one to seven innings), needing 101 pitches (62 for strikes) to carve through 30 Minnesota batters. At 42-years-young, Wakefield became the oldest pitcher in Major League history to turn in back-to-back complete games.

The Red Sox offense wasted no time getting to work against Twins' starter, Scott Baker. In Baker's last outing, the right-hander served up four home runs to the Toronto Blue Jays. On Wendesday at Fenway Park, Baker showed signs of improvement by only give up three home runs this time to the Boston Red Sox. In the bottom of the first, with David Ortiz (2-for-4) standing at first with a single, Kevin Youkilis flicked a 92 MPH fastball on the outside corner down the right field line past Pesky's pole for a two-run home run.

In the bottom of the second, with George Kottaras standing at first after a 5-pitch walk, Nick Green smoked a 90 MPH fastball deep over the Monster seats to up the Red Sox' lead to 4-0. Following a JD Drew double in the bottom of the third, Mike Lowell aired out the first pitch he saw from Baker, another fastball in the low 90's, into the Monster seats for the third two-run home run in three innings hit by the Red Sox. With a 6-0 lead, Tim Wakefield went on to pitch with ease, blanking the Twins until giving up the lone run of the day in the fifth inning.

The Red Sox broke things wide open in the bottom of the seventh. Leading off the inning with his third double of the season, David Ortiz drove a 96 MPH fastball off the Green Monster, missing his first home run of the season by inches. After a 4-pitch walk to Kevin Youkilis, Juan Morillo continued to struggle, walking JD Drew on seven pitches. After a visit to the mound by the Twins' pitching coach, Morillo went on to walk in Jason Bay on four pitches to plate a run for Boston.

R.A. Dickey came on to face Mike Lowell after Morillo got the hook, but it made no difference. The Red Sox third baseman ripped a line drive base hit into left field, scoring Youkilis from third to extend Boston's lead to 8-1. Lowell was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI on the day. The three runs driven in by Lowell give him 16 on the season to lead the Red Sox in that category. You have to go all the way back to September 5, 2008 for Lowell's last 3-hit game, which came against the Rangers in Texas. Lowell has now driven in a run in the past seven straight games. In those seven games, Lowell has drastically raised his average from .154 to .315.

George Kottaras followed up Lowell's RBI with an RBI of his own, skying a fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly. In the game's final at bat, Nick Green hit a ground-rule double down the right field line to drive in Jason Bay. It was then that the crew chief signaled for the tarp to be pulled out onto the field and the game was never resumed. Not like it would have made a difference; this game was no nail-biter.

Some bits and pieces of news for you: Jed Lowrie underwent surgery on Tuesday and the doctors are calling it a success. Lowrie will resume baseball activities in six weeks, aiming for a return some time around the All Star break. Another Red Sox shortstop that aims to return sooner than later is Julio Lugo. Lugo begins his rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Wednesday. The shortstop expects to play four games with Pawtucket before returning to the Red Sox. Manager Terry Francona expects Lugo to rejoin the team as early as next week for their series in Cleveland.

Working on rebuilding his shoulder strength, Daisuke Matsuzaka made 30 throws (not on a mound) from 60 feet on Wednesday. Matsuzaka won't be throwing at all on Thursday, but will resume his throwing program on Friday. The Red Sox still have not announced when Daisuke will in fact return to the Red Sox' rotation.

Before Tuesday's game was postponed to today, the Red Sox placed Rocco Baldelli on the 15-day DL and called up Jeff Bailey to fill in for Baldelli until he's ready to return.

On a final note, Jacoby Ellsbury was 2-for-4 in Wednesday's game one victory against the Twins. His two hits extended his hitting streak to seven games, as the Red Sox have now extended their winning streak to six games.

Happy 50th birthday Terry Francona!