Kevin Youkilis ends the Sox 5 game losing streak with a two-out single in the ninth to claim game one of the series 1-0


Kevin Youkilis ends the Sox 5 game losing streak with a two-out single in the ninth to claim game one of the series 1-0

(April 29, 2008) – There is a saying that the better the competition you are playing against the better it makes you as an athlete. Well this is what happened to the Red Sox 24-year-old left-hander Jon Lester tonight. Toronto ace Roy Halladay is an overall better pitcher with a career record of 113-58, 1,106 strike outs and an ERA of 3.63 but tonight Lester matched Halladay pitch-for-pitch.

There was an Old Time Baseball feel at the ballpark. None of this new generation, offense is everything business. It was simply Old Time Baseball where defense and pitching was everything. (I think Steve Buckley would be proud. So be sure to read in the Boston Herald tomorrow about how Buckley remembers pitchers completing games all the time back in the day. Which, according to Dane Cook, was a Wednesday by the way.) Both starters went eight inning combining to allow just four hits total and striking out 12 opposing batters.

From the first inning with Halladay on the mound, there was the feeling the first pitcher to make a mistake would be the loser. But neither pitcher made a mistake until the bottom of the ninth inning. It looked as if the Sox and Jays would be heading to extra frames after Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia flew out to center and popped to third, respectively but David Ortiz, who was 0-3 before stepping to the plate in the ninth, walked to bring Manny Ramirez to the plate. Ramirez kept the inning alive with a bloop base hit in front of Jays center fielder Vernon Wells to give Kevin Youkilis the chance to be a hero and he was. The base it was not a scorching line drive but it had enough juice on it to get past John McDonald and Aaron Hill for the game winner.

Remember folks the ninth inning rally all started when Ortiz drew the walk against Halladay so conclusions can be drawn from tonight’s game. Ortiz is not just a clutch player when he hitting game winning homeruns or doubles he is clutch when he does whatever is necessary to prolong the inning to give the Red Sox the opportunity to pull it out in the end. Remember that Red Sox fans. He may be slumping now but if it was not for Ortiz tonight, Youkilis would not have been the number one star of the game. Ortiz does whatever it takes for the team to win even when he is not playing well.

Lester walked four Toronto batters but was able to “minimize the damage” thanks to the defense behind him. He was helped out by two double plays in the fifth and sixth inning after a hit and a walk, respectively. Lester completed full innings before being replaced by closer Jonathan Papelbon who would get his first win of the season when Youkilis drove in Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth.

(photo courtesy of TLC) In the fifth inning if Lester had a second baseman who was two inches taller than Zach Roloff (left) then his no-hit bid would have still been intact going into the ninth. But Lyle Overbay's base hit was just a tad too high for little second baseman to snag from the sky. (Actually on second thought I think Zach would made that catch.)

Halladay also pitched magnificent for Toronto. Tonight’s game was his fourth consecutive start where he went the distance, pitching nine innings giving up one run on five hits while walking just one Sox hitters while striking out six. The Blue Jays did not give their Ace run support tonight.

After being pushed back to Wednesday night, Daisuke Matsuzaka go for his fifth win of the season against the Jays right hander Dustin McGowan. Matsuzaka is coming of an 11-3 win against Texas where he allowed three earned runs on five hits while striking our four Rangers in 5.1 innings. McGowan, who will be looking to bring his record back to .500 against the Japanese sensation, is 1-2 on the season with a 4.18 ERA and 23 strike outs. In his last start against the Rays in St. Petersburg, the Jays righty pitched just four innings while allowing five runs – four of them earned – on four hits while walking seven Rays and striking out six.

WIN: Jonathan Papelbon (1-1)

LOSS: Roy Halladay (2-4)


Game Notes:

22 years ago today – Roger Clemens set the record for the game high strike outs with 20 against the Seattle Mariners.

The Jays broke a six game losing streak on Sunday with a 5-2 against the Kansas City Royals behind Jesse Litsch. Coming into tonight’s game the Sox lost five of their last 10 games and are relying on the young Jon Lester to snap the five game losing streak.

Terry Francona held Jacoby Ellsbury out of the line up due to a sore groin and says it's not worth letting the injury linger.

J.D. Drew left the game in the top of the third with a left quadriceps injury that he appeared to injure running out a ground ball to the shortstop David Eckstein. Brandon Moss replaced him in the field. In the top of third.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Kevin Youkilis, BOSTON 2-4 Game winning RBI
  1. Jon Lester, BOSTON 8IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 6K
  1. Roy Halladay, TORONTO 9.0, 5H, 1ER, 1BB, 6K

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