The Boston Red Sox came back from Wednesday’s loss to Tampa Bay with a vengeance, beating the Rays 5-3 last night. In a game that manager Bobby Valentine told the Globe he was “going after,” the Sox used five pitchers to get the last ten outs of the game. Starter Felix Doubront went 5.2 strong innings. He walked four, but he also only allowed one run while strking out seven. For a fourth starter (or any starter, really), you take that every time. Rich Hill, Scott Atchison, and Andrew Miller each took over for one out, before Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves wrapped up the win.
Credit where credit is due: the Rays staff also pitched a good game. Rays starter Matt More turned in the definition of a quality start, allowing three earned runs over six innings. The bullpen held the Sox to one more run the rest of the way, but the damage had already been done.
There were some fireworks last night. Mike Aviles got ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes. If this surprises you (it surprised me, Aviles seems like a laid-back, cool guy), it should: this was Aviles’ first career ejection.
Also, as is de rigueur these days, Twitter wars commenced. On Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez – who hadn’t hit a home run since April 17 – told reporters that he would hit one the next day, in last night’s game. A Tampa Bay fan apparently didn’t realize Gonzalez was mainly joking (if it was that easy to predict when you’d hit a home run, then Marlon Byrd – who hit his first home run of the year last night – probably would have had a lot more to say). The fan tweeted that Moore, the Rays starter, should hit Gonzalez with a pitch. Tampa pitcher David Price retweeted the tweet, thus supporting the suggestion according to the Unspoken Rules of Tweeting.
PS – Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’re confused – I’ll explain Twitter to you later.
Anyway, Moore went ahead and hit Gonzalez with the first pitch of Gonzalez’s first at-bat, with runners on first and second. The HBP loaded the bases, so it was a terrible time to hit someone intentionally. Then in the third inning, Doubront hit Luke Scott with a pitch with two outs and a runner on first (still not a great time to hit a batter, but not as bad as the Gonzalez beaning). Scott trotted down to first base, and yelled at Doubront from there. The jury’s out on whether or not the Twitter wars actually escalated into grown men, millionaires and role models no less, trying to purposefully hit each other with baseballs, but Valentine seems a little mystified. He told the Globe:
If it was [intentional], it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in baseball. But it might have been. I doubt it. If we have to resort to that kind of stupidity then maybe the game has passed me by. It might.
Oh, Bobby V. – when the team is winning, your post-game interview quotes sound more endearing and fuddy-duddy-grandfather than they sound clueless and impotent. Let’s keep it that way, ok?
Here’s a link to the box score, courtesy of the Red Sox.
Tonight, the Red Sox head to Philadelphia to start an interleague set against the Phillies. I’m not a huge fan of interleague play in general, for two reasons. First, I think it’s unfair to American League teams who can’t use their DH in NL parks, and gives an advantage to NL teams who suddenly have an extra lineup option in AL parks. Whether you agree with the DH or not, the AL teams structure their rosters around having a DH, and it’s not fair to suddenly make them play without the DH in games that count towards their standings. Second, I don’t think it’s fair that the interleague schedule is unbalanced. I compare it to how the NCAA measures strength of schedule. Some AL teams play the Pirates, the Cubs and the Padres. Some AL teams play the Braves, the Cardinals and the Phillies (who are a great team, despite their early-season slump). But each game counts the same in the standings. Unfair.
That being said, this series should be fun. First of all, we have the natural delight of David Ortiz having to play first base (would you take the guy out of the lineup?). Gonzalez says he’ll play right field this series, so that they can both stay in the lineup. Ortiz and Gonzalez playing first and right? Hold on to your hats, Sox fans. Ortiz seems mildly confident, or at least not NOT confident, telling the Globe:
I just don’t want to be in the wrong place when it comes down to catching a fly ball or catching a ground ball. I try to mark a territory where I can be at and after that let the guys who are out there every day take over.
Good luck, Dustin Pedroia. I hope you stretch before the game, because I sense you’ll be making a lot of sprints towards first and right field to track down some hit balls.
Also, there’s this closer named Jonathan Papelbon. Ever heard of him? I think maybe he was in the Red Sox minor league system once. He’s closing games for Philadelphia now, and he’s also getting more comfortable in the clubhouse. Amalie Benjamin – one of the best female sportswriters out there – took an early flight to Philadelphia to catch up with Papelbon. She has a great piece in the Globe today about the ex-Sox’s adjustment to a new league, a new team, and a new fan base.
Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30 ERA) takes on Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28) tonight. Both teams are currently in last place, but I have a feeling these will be some intense games.