On Sept. 1, 2007, Dustin Pedroia made a superhuman effort at Fenway Park to preserve Clay Buchholz’ history-making no-hitter with a jaw-dropping, diving stop of a seventh-inning grounder up the middle and accurate, pop-up throw from the edge of the outfield grass. For those who missed that play, the BoSox second baseman turned in an encore performance in the ninth inning last night at Fenway to position his team for a vital, 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. With Scott Rolen on second base following a two-out double off Jonathan Paplebon (1-0), Vernon Wells pounded a ball up the middle that appeared destined to break a scoreless deadlock, only to be robbed by Pedroia’s backhanded dive behind the bag and strong, accurate throw to first base.
Pedroia’s defensive gem seized the momentum for a team on the edge of losing six straight games for the first time since Aug. 25-30, 2006. After mustering only three inconsequential singles off Roy Halladay, the Sox strung together a two-out rally in the ninth against the Toronto starter that gave them their first walkoff 1-0 win since a Dave Stapleton 10th-inning solo home run ended a scoreless game vs. the Minnesota Twins on July 18, 1990.
The Sox received marvelous starting pitching for the third consecutive game. Jon Lester allowed only one hit in eight innings, while striking out six and walking four, and matched his longest career scoreless performance from July 18, 2006 (a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals). The left-hander’s outing came on the heels of tough losses by Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and gave the three Red Sox starters 23 outstanding innings – three earned runs, eight hits, 28 strikeouts – with no personal victories to show for it.
Sox Notes: Bryan Corey was designated for assignment to make room for Mike Lowell. Jacoby Ellsbury was sidelined by a minor groin strain and J.D. Drew joined him on the bench when he was removed from the game in the second inning with tightness in his left quadriceps after lunging for first base running out a ground ball. Drew appears unlikely to play tonight.
April 30, 1918 at Fenway Park
Red sox 8, Senators 1 (11-2)
The Red Sox closed out a spectacular month with their most lopsided win of the season. Babe Ruth did it all and he not only held the Senators to a run on six hits, but he also singled, stole a base and scored two runs.
Sam Agnew was the hitting star in the win. He went two for four with a double and he scored two runs.
Who needs the Yankees as rivals? The Rays proved that they can put up as good a fight as anyone in the American League East. A career-high 13 strikeouts highlighted the four-hit, seven-inning start by Josh Beckett (2-2), but it was not enough of a speed bump to slow down the Rays, winners of six in a row and tied with the Red Sox and surprising Orioles atop the AL East, although Baltimore and Tampa are percentage points ahead. Rays starter James Shields threw a two-hit, complete-game shutout against a Red Sox lineup that managed just seven hits in its last two games here and wound up hitting .173 in the series. The Rays had never swept a series of three or more games against the Red Sox.
Today marks the club’s first day off since April 7, which also happened to be its first day off after its 16,000-mile Tokyo-West Coast-Toronto trip. This stretch included a pair of two-game series at Cleveland and New York sandwiched between two home-stands and ending with this three-game set at the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox went 12-8 during the stretch – the maximum allowed in a row, per the collective bargaining agreement – but lost the last five.
Sox Notes: Mike Lowell is expected to be activated for tomorrow night’s home-stand opener against Toronto. Lowell wrapped up his three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket yesterday, going 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly as the team’s designated hitter in a 4-3 loss at Buffalo. He finished the stint 3-for-13 with three RBI. The Red Sox decided to pitch Jon Lester tomorrow, with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was scratched from his last start because of the flu, going Wednesday.
Akinori Iwamura’s two-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning ruined an otherwise splendid outing for both Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox, as the second baseman’s blast was just the third hit of the night allowed by the right-hander. The Rays hung on for a 2-1 victory. Buchholz arrived at the eighth inning having allowed one hit, B.J. Upton’s fourth-inning leadoff double, and a pair of first-inning walks. Pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro singled between a pair of outs to set the stage for Iwamura, who launched a no-doubt blast to right field that sent a sold-out Tropicana Field crowd of 36,048 into hysteria.
In the fifth inning, Jacoby Ellbury’s RBI infield single brought in Coco Crisp with the only run the Red Sox could produce during another strong night for Tampa Bay pitchers. All the Sox could muster on the night against Edwin Jackson, Trever Miller, Scott Dohmann (2-0) and Troy Percival (save No. 5) were five hits, all singles.
The loss for the Red Sox was their fourth in a row, just the latest in a series of indignities or injuries endured by the reigning world champions. Today, they will play for the 20th consecutive day; tomorrow’s off day can’t come soon enough.
Sox Notes: David Ortiz’s right knee, the same one he had surgery on over the winter, was too bruised and swollen for the designated hitter to play. He will miss today’s series finale as well. Earlier in the day, the Red Sox placed first baseman Sean Casey on the disabled list with a bruised right hip flexor. Brandon Moss was called up from Pawtucket to replace Casey.
April 27, 1918 at Shibe Park
Red Sox 4, Athletics 1 (10-2)
Bullet Joe Bush held the Athletics to just a single run as the Red Sox won their third straight game. Bush gave up the run on seven hits and he struck out three in the contest.
Amos Strunk tripled and he scored two runs in the contest. In all, the Sox managed just five hits but they helped themselves out with five walks.
Straggling in here ravaged by the flu and nearing the end of a 20-game stretch without a day off, the Red Sox could have used an easy one at the Tropicana Dome last night. It didn’t happen… Nathan Haynes’ 11th-inning RBI single off struggling Mike Timlin put an end to a hard day and night for the Red Sox as the Rays took Game 1 of the three-game set, 5-4.
The four-hour game emptied the Sox bench and forced them to use catcher Jason Varitek, who still was trying to get his land legs under him after getting knocked around by a bug that swept through the team’s clubhouse during the week. Another injury (Sean Casey, day-to-day with a right hip flexor strain) only compounded the current pain and suffering of the Sox, who have now lost three straight after winning their previous six.
Sox Notes: Rehabbing third baseman Mike Lowell went 1 for 5 and drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single. Lowell is eligible to come the DL today, but indications were he would remain with Pawtucket for a few more games.
April 26, 1918 at Shibe Park
Red Sox 2, Athletics 1 (9-2)
The Red Sox got their share of breaks in this one as they guaranteed themselves at least a split in their four game series with the Athletics. The Red Sox didn’t get a hit in the first six innings but they did their share of damage in the seventh. Amos Strunk broke that up and on a steal attempt of third base, Strunk scored when Athletics starter Scott Perry threw a wild pitch. Dick Hoblitzell then doubled and he moved to third on Everett Scott’s single before Hoblitzell scored on an error by Kopp out in leftfield.
Dutch Leonard picked up the win with a shaky start. He gave up one run on seven hits and ten walks with one strike out.
For a while last night, it appeared as if the Red Sox had become stuck in a time and space warp, their usual interleague success and home-field advantage sucked into a pernicious black hole that has hung around Fenway Park during this homestand. The laws of physics, however, finally prevailed as the Sox rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to deliver a classic hometown smackdown of a senior circuit interloper, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 5-4 victory featured a game-winning RBI single by Jason Varitek, who had been stuck in a serious hitting slump. Tek was 1-for-15 (.067) on the homestand and 4-for-47 (.085) overall before delivering the big hit. Paving the way for Varitek was Mike Lowell, whose two-run double off Chad Qualls tied the game and sent the crowd into its accustomed state of hysteria, the happy kind.
Starter Justin Masterson could not survive an early bout with wildness and hittability, which accounted for the 4-1 margin after just 2 1/2 innings. The big blow was a two-out, three-run homer in the third by Chad Tracy, who drove in all four Arizona runs. Masterson gutted out six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Chris Smith pitched two innings for his first major league victory, and Jonathan Paplebon worked around a walk to Eric Byrnes to notch his 22nd save.
The hard work paid off last night, salvaging a game that appeared to be headed for the loss column, which would have meant the Sox’ second straight series defeat at home against a National League foe. Instead, the Sox can earn a series victory tonight, when 41-year-Tim Wakefield squares off against 44-year-old Randy Johnson. The Sox’ interleague record stands at 9-5.
Nation Notes: David Ortiz will hit off a tee today in front of the medical staff to determine the best approach to moving forward on Ortiz’s wrist injury. Ortiz will make the upcoming trip to Houston, Tampa Bay, and New York and will at some point take batting practice . The Sox are expected to go slow with Bartolo Colon, who is recovering from back spasms. He will stay behind while the team is on the road.
April 25, 1918 at Shibe Park
Red Sox 6, Athletics 1 (8-2)
The Red Sox drew eleven walks and picked up twelve hits as they dismantled the Athletics in the second game of their series in Philadelphia. Amos Strunk had a team high four hits with a run while Wally Schang crossed the plate twice.
Lost in all of the offense was a solid start by Carl Mays. He gave up one run on nine hits and a walk with six strikeouts and the win pushed his record to 3-0 on the season.
Though he has yet to throw a pitch above Double A, Justin Masterson will get that chance this afternoon, in Boston. With the team cycling through pitchers at an impressive rate – they have scratched two straight starters hours before game time – the Red Sox chose to bring in someone who hasn’t been susceptible to the flu bug that has infected the clubhouse to take the mound in today’s series finale against the Angels. Masterson, a 6-foot-6-inch righthanded sinkerballer, has dominated in Double A this season, allowing just two runs on 14 hits in 19 innings. He has walked five batters and struck out 23, with a ground ball to fly ball ratio of almost 4-to-1. In his last start Saturday he threw five shutout innings and struck out 10.
When the Sox sent Tuesday night’s spot starter, David Pauley, back to Pawtucket yesterday, they brought up reliever Craig Hansen. Joining Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Jed Lowrie, Hansen completes the quartet of the team’s first four draft picks now on the major league roster. Hansen was optioned back to Pawtucket to make room for Masterson. He pitched a strong 1 2/3 innings and got the loss, allowing two hits, one a go-ahead homer by Casey Kotchman in the sixth. He struck out three, all on sliders. Hansen will be back at some point this season to help to Sox.
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