It looked like a case of here today, gone tomorrow for the Red Sox' offense. After scoring 17 runs in Monday's game, the Sox managed only one through the first 7 innings, suffering from their usual problem of stranded baserunners.
Jon Lester managed to carry the team through the first 7 innings despite their offensive troubles. The team's ace again looked like its ace, allowing only 1 run on 3 hits and a walk going into the 8th. It was there where he hit serious trouble.
Coming into the inning with 97 pitches already on his arm, Lester gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. The Angels bunted the runners along, and Lester gave up a walk to Erick Aybar to load the bases with one out. With his 120th pitch, Lester threw a 94 mile per hour fastball high and tight to Bobby Abreu, who grounded it towards second. Pedroia snagged the grounder, tagged Aybar (who went to the ground trying to avoid him) between first and second, and, stumbling, flipped the ball to Youkilis to end the inning.
The bottom of the 8th inning was no less dramatic. Turning to their usually effective reliever Kevin Jepsen, the Angels found themselves in quick trouble thanks to back-to-back walks to Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis. J.D. Drew followed up with a single to load the bases with 0 outs for David Ortiz, who had already killed 2 rallies, leaving 4 on base. With a 2-0 count, Ortiz swung at a fastball slightly low and down the middle, and grounded into a 4-2-3 double play.
Down to just one out now, and still needing the go-ahead run, Adrian Beltre walked to reload the bases, giving Jeremy Hermida the pivotal at bat. Jeremy, in his first game back from a quad injury, took the first two pitches for balls before Jepsen fought back to even the count at 2-2. On the fifth pitch of the at bat, a belt-high fastball on the outer part of the plate, Hermida swung, lifting the ball to left field and over the head of Juan Rivera, planting it at the base of the monster for a bases clearing double. Mike Lowell added a 4th run by doubling in Hermida, and Papelbon closed out the game with a 1-2-3 9th inning, giving the Sox their second win of the series.
- Believe it or not, Lester's ERA is down to 3.93 now. It's like clockwork, this April thing.
- Drew continues his comeback, with a single and a double. He also hit a ball hard at Morales, who deflected it into foul territory for an error.
- Papelbon looked absolutely nasty tonight, striking out the first batter with a mean Splitter. It's good to see him mixing something other than the straight fastball in to great effectiveness again.
- Marco Scutaro lead the team with 3 hits, scoring the first run of the game after a leadoff double in the first inning. He also made a terrific defensive play, ranging to his left and doing a jump-throw to catch the runner at first. It was an RBI groundout that tied the game in the 4th, but Scutaro probably stopped it from being a 2 RBI single, and even got an out.
- Ortiz looked absolutely lost at the plate again tonight, swinging at some miserable pitches in the dirt, and grounding into two double plays. With Lowell and Hermida hitting as well as they are, it's going to be difficult to justify much more playing time for the fallen slugger.