FanPost

Rays 16, Red Sox 5: Final Thoughts

Matsuzaka’s misery: Daisuke was awful, plain and simple. This was one of the worst starts of his career. It started in the top of the first, when Johnny Damon homered on the first pitch he saw to give the Rays a 1-0 advantage. Although Matsuzaka recovered nicely, he unraveled in the top of the second when he allowed six more runs on six hits. He lasted just 2+ innings, and watched his ERA balloon to 12.86.

Damon’s revenge: Johnny Damon returned to Fenway Park, where as usual he received a chorus of boos. He came into the game hitting just .125 in nine games, but had a great night at the plate against Red Sox pitching. He went three for five, with a home run and a walk.

Crawford easing out of slump: During his last few games Crawford has hit some balls relatively well; the problem is they were right at opposing players. Tonight he reached base three times against his old team. He recorded two hits, one of which was his first extra-base hit of 2011. Hopefully he is able to build on this success.

Sam Fuld’s big game: The New Hampshire native collected four hits while falling just a single shy of the cycle. In the top of the ninth he had the chance to become the first player to hit for the cycle against the Sox since Bengie Molina did it on July 16, 2010. Instead he doubled down the left field line to finish 4 for 6 with two doubles, a triple, and a two-run homer. He also robbed Dustin Pedroia of a base hit in the fifth inning when he made a diving catch in left.    

Ortiz continues to hit: This time last year, Big Papi was batting .111 with just one RBI. At the end of April he was hitting .143 with four RBI. Tonight he resumed his solid start to 2011 by going two for five with a triple (last triple August 22, 2010), while driving in two. He is now hitting .282 with eight runs batted in, as we enter the second week in baseball.

Ellsbury starting to hit; Saltalamacchia is not: Soon we might see Jacoby Ellsbury back in his familiar leadoff spot. Tonight he went two for four with a home run, and a run scored. After a few more games in the 8-hole, I think Tito will move him back to the top of the lineup. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on the other hand, was held hitless tonight. He continues to struggle, as he is now hitting .154. While the Red Sox will stick with him at least until mid-May, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Francona platoon Jason Varitek against lefties. Many fans have been calling for Varitek to take over the starting job at catcher, but considering his age (he turned 39 today) that seems highly unlikely.Another thing to watch for is how the comfort level of the pitchers with Saltalamacchia evolves as the season progresses. Josh Beckett has already made it clear that he wants Jason Varitek catching his games. If Salty continues to struggle offensively and with regards to handling the staff, we will see a platoon between him and Tek. 

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